Press Release
The Federal Government has warned the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) against flouting the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, as the government is committed to restoring the faith of Nigerians in the law to promote open governance.
The Acting Director General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Mr. Dasuki Arabi, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the Validation Workshop of the Report on the Study of the Administrative Burden on the Implementation of FOI Act in Four Federal Government Agencies.
The workshop was organised by the BPSR, in collaboration with the Right to Know (R2K) and the MacArthur Foundation.
Arabi said that since eight years ago when the FOI Act was signed, the Bureau had observed that there was little credible evidence that a number of MDAs on which the law clearly binds were complying with its dictates.
According to him, the FoI was a vital tool to ensuring democracy and responsible governance in Nigeria adding that it will curb executive, judicial and legislative recklessness.
He also said that a number of people to whom the law gives access right have not being proactive in the usage of the law to demand for information even though there had been sporadic request by advocacy groups.
“The denial of access to information and attendant widespread ignorance in the society does more harm than any harm that could possibly arise from granting access of information to members of the public.
“The benefits far exceeds the cost, the effective implementation of FoI in Nigeria brings openness, transparency and good governance thereby complementing governments avowed commitment to stamp out corruption,” Arabi said.
He said that it was in a bid to effectively implement the law that BPSR partnered the R2K and the MacArthur Foundation which carried out a study on the ministries of Finance, Justice, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHoCSF).
He said the study was to assess the extent of implementation of the FoI Act in these agencies and use the outcome to assist the Federal Government to design strategies to address critical areas in the implementation of the Act in the country.
On her part, the National Coordinator, Right to Know, Ms Ene Nwakpa, said that from their findings the implementation of the FOI Act in Nigeria is very slow.
Nwakpa admitted that the slow process was unexpected since the country was just coming out of an era of official secrecy, when many documents are classified as confidential.
She however commended the BPSR for creating an online portal for the FoI Act on their website for easy access to the public.
She said, “For a given institution to have a portal for FoI is really comforting and shows the country was promoting openness and eradicating official secrecy.
“Other ministries have taken a cue from BPSR and have included it in their budget to create a portal for the FoI and this will enhance the fight against corruption in the country.”

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