The International Press Centre (IPC) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have launched an online public voting for all Nigerians to select a winning public institution to be conferred with the “FOI Best Practice Recognition Award” at the National Freedom of Information (FOI) Awards scheduled to take place in Abuja on December 10, 2021, as part of activities to commemorate the 10th year anniversary of the FOI Act.
The two organizations are inviting Nigerians from all works of life to vote for the public institution they believe to be the most responsive to requests for information from members of the public under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and that has adopted innovative and access-friendly practices and procedures to ensure the public’s right of access to information in the country.
The online voting exercise, which began on November 29 will close at midnight on Sunday, December 5, 2021.
It is the final selection process for the conferment of a “Public Institution FOI Best Practice Recognition” Award under the Public Institutions Category in the National Freedom of Information Awards initiated by the two organizations as part of activities to commemorate the 10th year anniversary of the FOI Act. The FOI Bill was signed into Law by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 after about 12 years of advocacy for its enactment.
According to both organizations, the FOI Awards, which are designed to recognise and reward individuals, organisations and public institutions that have made significant contributions towards the advancement of the right to information in Nigeria as well as in ensuring the effective implementation of the FOI Act since its inception in 2011, are organised with support from the European Union through component 4b: Support to Media of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project.
In addition to a National FOI Essay Competition for mass communication and journalism undergraduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions, which is aimed at encouraging mass communication and journalism students to examine the impact of the FOI Act in enhancing participatory democracy under the topic: “Deepening Democracy, the Impact of FOI Act 10 Years After”, FOI Awards will also be given in four categories at an award ceremony taking place in Abuja on this year’s International Human Rights Day, Friday, 10 December, 2021 as follows:
- The Individual Category, to honour anindividual that has made the highest number of requests for information under the FOI Act to public institutions or private entities to which the Act applies, between May 29, 2015 and October 31, 2021;
- The Organisational Category, to honour anews organisation, any other type of organisation, company, association, institution, group, or other types of corporate entity that has made the highest number of requests for information under the FOI Act to public institutions or private entities to which the Act applies, between May 29, 2015 and October 31, 2021;
- The Public Institutions Category, aPublic Institution FOI Best Practice Recognition Award, to be conferred on a public institution adjudged to be most responsive to requests for information from members of the public under the FOI Act and that has adopted innovative and access-friendly practices and procedures to ensure the public right of access to information in Nigeria; and
- A Special Recognition Award, tobe given to an individual adjudged to have made a substantial and lasting contribution towards advancing the right to information in Nigeria over the last 10 years.
The entities short-listed for online voting for the Public Institution FOI Best Practice Recognition Award are the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
IPC’s Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, explained the rationale for the public voting saying: “We have decided to open up the process of selecting a winner in the Public Institutions Category to the Nigerian public because we believe that members of the public who have a right of access to information under the FOI Act should be the ultimate deciders, based on their personal experiences or from the information available to them, of how well each of the public institutions at the top of our performance indicators have done in providing information to the public and in the general implementation of the Act.” Members of the public can indicate their choice of public institutions for the Award in this category by voting at: https://bit.ly/311auJc