Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officers from Federal public institutions have called for the deployment of communication technologies in the collection, storage and management of information and records to improve the implementation of the FOI Act across the board. To this end, they agreed that an online platform should be established for sharing of information and experiences among FOI Desk Officers and interfacing with the public.
The participants made this and other recommendations at a 2-Day Workshop for Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officers of public institutions on the establishment of an online engagement platform held by the International Press Centre (IPC) in collaboration with Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Freedom of Information Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The workshop was with the aim of building a collaborative mechanism among the FOI Desk Officers to deepen strategies for ensuring effective implementation of the FOI Act as well as ensuring improved compliance with proactive publications and others obligations of Public Institutions under the FOI Act. It took place in Abuja on February 1 and 2, 2022.
The event had in attendance over 60 participants drawn from among FOI Desk Officers of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Abuja. Workshop sessions comprised of a mixture of plenary presentations and discussions, group work in breakout sessions, report back in plenary and video documentary viewing.
The highpoint of the workshop was an agreement to establish an online Freedom of Information Platform for FOI Desk Officers to facilitate collaboration and information and experience sharing in order to enhance the effective implementation of the FOI Act.
The workshop, with the theme, “Facilitating Shared Learning, Experience Sharing and Best Practice Application in the Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011” was funded by the European Union (EU) and was implemented under Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project.
A welcome remark was received from Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC), who was represented by Ms Stella Nwofia, Programme Manager, IPC while Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), who chaired the opening session gave the opening remarks. Goodwill messages were received from Mr. Clement Boutillier, Representative of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS and Dr. Gloria Ahmed, National Coordinator of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria
The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who was represented by Mr. Gowon Ichibor, Head of the Freedom of Information Unit at the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The participants also recommended that in accordance with the mandatory provisions of the FOI Act, public institutions should undertake continuous training of their officials, particularly those who play critical roles in the information ecosystem, in order to enhance their efficiency and thereby the effective implementation of the FOI Act while also making budgetary provisions for the training of all their personnel and for the overall implementation of the FOI Act.
The workshop concluded that public’s right of access to information as obligated by the FOI Act is vital to ensuring transparency and accountability in governance and deepening democratic practice in Nigeria and that it is therefore imperative that the right is fully respected and upheld in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act.
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