Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR) was adjudged the most compliant and transparent public institution for the year 2020 by a coalition of civil society organizations (CSO) during the second edition of the National Freedom of Information Compliance and Transparency Ranking of Public institutions on September 28, 2020.
The ranking is to entrench accountability and transparency in public and security sector institutions by ensuring that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government liberate data and that citizens have timely and unrestricted access to public information.
The organizations namely BudgIT, Basic Rights Watch (BRW), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Right to Know (R2K) and the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) collaborated to rank public institutions based on their level of disclosure, transparency, and compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
The ranking methodology developed by the organizations assessed public institutions for their compliance with their Proactive Disclosure obligations under the Act, their level of responsiveness to requests for information in terms of timeliness; the level of disclosure in terms of the completeness of the information provided to requesters; whether they conducted FOI training for their staff as mandatorily required by the Act; whether they had designated their FOI Desk Officers as required by the Act; and their level of compliance with their FOI annual reporting obligation for the year under review.
Of the 211 public institutions covering the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary that were assessed and ranked, the BPSR was adjudged the winner with a total of 58.7 points. The second-place position went to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) with 54 points, while the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) scored a total of 43.5 points to clinch the third position.
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Abuja to coincide with the International Day for Universal Access to Information proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly last year, Coordinator R2K Nigeria, Mrs. EneNwankpa, noted that the level of compliance by public institutions with their proactive publications obligations under the FOI Act remains extremely disturbing, describing proactive disclosure as “a veritable tool for proper information management, creating an enlightened citizenry, and building public trust in government, particularly in the face of a global pandemic.”
Mrs. Nwankpa stressed that “Improved disclosure practices by MDAs will positively impact how public resources are managed and utilized which will, in turn, reflect positively on the Government as citizens would have the necessary information which would allow them to actively participate in governance.”
Reinforcing the point, Mr. Austin Ekwujuru, the Chief Executive Officer of Basic Right Watch, observed that the annual National FOI Rankings not only recognizes public institutions that are transparent but also promotes the effective implementation of the FOI Act in order to help fight corruption, which is a core pillar of President MuhammaduBuhari’s Administration.
He stressed that “Timely and unrestricted access to information by members of the public is critical for the success of the fight against corruption at all levels of governance because corruption can only thrive in an environment of secrecy.”