By Destiny Ugorji
No fewer than forty Permanent Secretaries and Directors in Anambra and Adamawa states respectively, have been trained on the provisions and application of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.
Lead Consultant to the Rule of Law and Anti Corruption-ROLAC Programme of the British Council on FOI and Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition Nigeria-FOICN, Dr. Walter Duru confirmed this to newsmen on Monday, even as he described the trainings as very successful.
According to him, “the training was supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption-ROLAC programme, funded by the European Union, but managed by the British Council. The training was delivered by the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, in partnership with the Freedom of Information Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja. It was aimed at enhancing the capacity of the gatekeepers, namely- Permanent Secretaries and Directors in Anambra and Adamawa States. The same training will be extended to Kano and the Federal Capital territory. The idea is to ensure that they are on the same page with the Information and FOI Desk Officers in the states, who were earlier trained. The training became necessary, following feedback from the earlier trained public servants, who opined that their bosses are also trained on the provisions and applications of the FOI, with a view to making their work easy. This will make them also understand the provisions, their duties and obligations under the FOI Act, as well as the recognized exemptions.”
Duru, who is also the Executive Director of the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption -MIIVOC was the lead resource person at the training. Ayode Longe of the Media Rights Agenda, who doubles as Secretary of the Board of FOI Coalition was also a Resource Person, according to Duru.
He argued that the Freedom of Information Act has the capability to open up government at all levels for effective citizens’ participation, if vigorously implemented, describing it as a veritable tool for effective anti corruption war in Nigeria.
Adding his voice, ROLAC Anti-Corruption Manager, Mr. Emmanuel Uche described ROLAC’s intervention in FOI as one of the numerous steps towards entrenching transparency and accountability in public service in Nigeria.
According to him, “effective implementation of the FOI Act in Nigeria will help bring about good governance. Corruption strives where secrecy is a culture. The FOI Act, when properly implemented at all levels, will enable the citizens hold the government accountable and reduce corruption in the country. The training targets both the state and non state actors in our focal states of Anambra, Adamawa, Kano, Lagos and of course, Federal Capital Territory.”
Uche pledged ROLAC’s continued support to initiatives that will promote good governance and entrench transparency in Nigeria.
Also speaking, ROLAC’s Programme Officer, Dala Pwanakei expressed satisfaction with the quality of participation and delivery during the sessions, even as he reiterated the need for Nigerians to take advantage of the FOI Act to hold the government accountable.