Make FOI implementation effective in anti-corruption war, group urges Buhari

Make FOI implementation effective in anti-corruption war, group urges Buhari

As Nigerians await the implementation of key policies that will enhance accountable governance under the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari led government, a Lagos based freedom of expression advocacy group, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged the President to make the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act a major pillar of

As Nigerians await the implementation of key policies that will enhance accountable governance under the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari led government, a Lagos based freedom of expression advocacy group, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged the President to make the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act a major pillar of his anti-corruption crusade, contending that it is the most effective instrument for enabling ordinary citizens join the fight to stem the menace of corruption.

According MRA’s statement, the implementation of the FOI Act has been lack lustre in many respects since it was signed into Law on May 28, 2011, with the result that it has been unable to achieve its full potential of enthroning transparency and accountability in governance.

“We have no doubt about the desire and capacity of President Buhari to combat corruption in Nigeria. However, given the scale of the problem, for his efforts to gain attraction and be effective, ordinary citizens have to be an integral part of his anti-corruption strategy so that corruption can be revealed and challenged wherever it manifests. A vigorously implemented and effective Freedom of Information Act is undoubtedly the most practical way of ensuring such citizen engagement.” MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said.

Mr. Ojo explained that it was for this reason that MRA decided to present President Buhari with a set of proposals on the day of his inauguration and a day after the fourth anniversary of the enactment of the FOI Act on how to enhance its implementation and position the Law to achieve its primary purpose.

The organization therefore recommended that President Buhari should embark on a deliberate programme to sensitize public institutions and officials at all levels of government about the rights of the public to access information held by public institutions. It also noted that the sensitization should not be limited to freedom of information officials alone but should include all staff of public institutions so that they are able to play their different roles in creating open institutions, including being able to direct members of the public to appropriate Freedom of Information officials within their institutions.

In addition, MRA also called on President Buhari to ensure that Government public outreach institutions, such as the Federal Ministry of Information, its state counterparts, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) undertake public enlightenment activities to enhance public awareness and better public understanding about the Act and its usage.

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