Abuja, Tuesday July 4, 2017: Right To Know (R2K), Nigeria today, convenes both state and non-state actors to a Forum on Freedom of Information (FOI) Good Practice and Accountability in Nigeria’s Public Service. The event provides a platform to share and document institutional experiences in implementing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, what worked, what did not, why and how to bring about a change, with focus on enabling greater accountability in Nigeria’s public service and ensure sustainable citizen participation in governance.
In his welcome Address, Mr Gbenga Aruleba, member R2K Board of Trustees, emphasised the role of freedom of information in Nigeria, stating that ‘Our task is to make it possible for public institutions to accordingly open the frontiers of records and information to the public as a key step towards a transparent, accountable, democratic and open government in Nigeria.
In that perspective, he commended the three executive orders signed in May 2017 by Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN), stating their complementarity that ‘these executive orders could really actualise many provisions of the FOI Act in our public service in Nigeria’. These orders, he said, “If taken together is aimed at promoting good governance, open up government and promote more accountability and efficiency in government”.
The Forum, which is supported by MacArthur Foundation, is part of an ongoing partnership between R2K, Nigeria and three targeted public institutions in Nigeria; Bureau for Public Service Reform (BPSR); Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), geared towards employing innovation and technology through the recent development of a Freedom of Information Portal on the respective website of these institutions, to optimise information disclosure and accountable standards within the public service.
It is significant to note that out of over 800 public institutions in Nigeria only R2K partnered two public institution BPSR and NEITI, have evolved to standard with a Freedom of Information portal progressively active on their websites.
The Forum is expected to lead to a Book documenting FOI experiences and sketch up commitment and future directions for participants.
R2K, Nigeria and Partners call on all public institutions in Nigeria to mainstream technology and innovation that would facilitate their easy compliance with the provisions of the FOI Act, which would help enshrine a culture of openness, facilitate easy public access to information and improve accountability in Public Service in Nigeria.
They equally call on all Non state actors in their diversity including CSO’s to continually sustain demand in forging ahead an accountable public service in the Country.
R2K, Nigeria remains committed to promoting, both off and on-line, open and accountable government in Nigeria and beyond.