LAGOS, Wednesday, September 11, 2013: A two-day Freedom of Information (FOI) Act Implementers Strategy Meeting for civil society organizations engaged in various aspects of FOI work in Nigeria begins in Abuja on Monday, September 16, 2013.
Organized by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) II Project, the meeting is aimed at exploring mechanisms for facilitating greater coordination, collaboration, as well as information, experience and skills sharing in FOI implementation activities.
The DGD II Project is a joint donor-funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria and is funded with contributions from the European Union, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency and the UNDP.
The meeting will bring together representatives of civil society organizations from all over the country working on Freedom of Information issues or using the Law to seek information from public institutions as well as legal practitioners willing to offer legal support to ordinary citizens to enforce their right of access to information.
The meeting will focus primarily on critical areas of civil society engagement, including Public enlightenment and sensitization; Training and capacity-building; FOI Monitoring and Research; as well as Legal Assistance and Litigation.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, noted that following the passage of the FOI Bill in May 2011 and in the context of the current implementation process of the Act, it had also become necessary to re-examine the continued relevance of the Freedom of Information Coalition, which was established in September 2000 to support the campaign for the passage of the Bill into Law.
He said part of the meeting will therefore be devoted to reviewing the operations of the Coalition, including its present structure, objectives, activities, resources and other relevant issues.
According to Mr. Ojo, “The meeting will discuss and explore various options for re-positioning the Coalition, including in the areas of structure, governance and institutional arrangements. It is hoped that the meeting will outline on a process for actualizing agreed changes and will develop a strategy accordingly.”
He expressed the conviction that if the Coalition is able to muster the sort of vibrancy with which it campaigned for the passage of the Bill into Law and channel the same level of energy into ensuring the effective implementation of the Act, the Law would very likely achieve its full potential within a very short time.
Mr. Ojo said efforts also were being made to leverage online and social media platforms to enable interested individuals and organizations that are not physically in attendance to nonetheless participate in the debates and discussions.