Nigerians Say Information is Important but Ignorant of FOI Act

Mr. Ayode Longe, Director of Programmes, Media Rights Agenda
Mr. Ayode Longe, Director of Programmes, Media Rights Agenda

The ordinary Nigeria believes that information is very important for many reasons but most of them are vastly unaware of the existence  the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and how to use it. In addition, not all of them are ready or willing to use the FOI Act even after knowing the potentials it holds.

These were the findings of a video interview of six Nigerian citizens that personnel of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) interviewed in commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

As part of activities to mark the IDUAI, MRA personnel went to the streets of Lagos to gauge the level of understanding of ordinary citizens about information generally, if they know about the FOI Act, and to know what categories of information they are most likely to ask of government.

The respondents said information is important in every field of life and for a number of reasons including for making decisions, getting directions and planning

In addition to agreeing that information is important, none of them had ever requested for information from government. All of those interviewed said they had never requested information from government and also did not know how to get information from the government if they need information.

Asked what type of information they would request from government institution if they were to do so, they said they would request for information pertaining to the economic recession, social amenities including education, electricity, roads, water, health etc.

The interview sessions also gave MRA staff who were involved in the project to enlighten as many of the respondents as said that they do not know what the FOI Act is.

Respondents were varied and included students, business men and women, professionals, traders and artisans. MRA staff also used the opportunity to distribute copies of the FOI Act and other information education and communication (IEC) materials to the respondednts.