Media Rights Agenda (MRA), in its goal to ensure the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in Nigeria, has initiated a mentoring programme for civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the areas of democratic governance across the country. With support from Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), MRA identified 12 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from across the country as beneficiaries of this mentoring process.
MRA organized an intensive three-day workshop on October 21 to 23, 2013 for identified NGOs on mainstreaming the FOI Act within the NGOs’ programme areas as well as to develop their capacities as regional authorities on the FOI Act.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director, said: “The Act is the golden child of democracy which must not only be protected but be fully utilized to achieve equity and justice in a state.” He explained: “The Act which was passed in 2011 after years of struggle makes public records and information more freely available by providing for the public access to public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy.”
Participants were extensively engaged on the effective utilization of the FOI Act as a tool for combating injustice and inequity and for ensuring transparency and accountability in the society. The workshop included practical sessions which included an assessment of the current strengths of each of the organisations and the ability to effectively mainstream and use the law; how they can mainstream FOI in their organisations’ mandates and drafting FOI requests which the CSOs will later submit.
Participants left the workshop with commitments to engage with FOI Act and to become champions in their zones. Participants were drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.