OGP National Coordinator calls on citizens to utilize the FOIA


The National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Dr. Gloria Ahmed has described the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a fitting compliment to the objectives and works of the OGP.

Dr. Ahmed made this know when she delivered a keynote address at the Annual National Freedom of Information Act Compliance and Transparency Ranking event organized by the National Freedom of Information Ranking Cohort at the Main Auditorium of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja recently.

She intimated that the OGP is a multilateral initiative founded on a partnership between government and non-state actors drawn from the Civil Society and Private Sector. The partnership aims to secure commitments from government in promoting transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption, and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance. 

Dr Ahmed revealed that when Nigeria signified its intention to join the OGP, one of the commitments it made from the onset was to enhance access to information through the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act; consequently, the three National Action Plans (NAP) that Nigeria has developed since 2016 have sought to honor this commitment which is evident with the selection of access to information as a priority thematic area, with ambitious OGP Commitments formulated to strengthen the implementation of FOIA implementation in the country. 

She called on participants to take full advantage of the OGP framework in enhancing their functions more effectively and also contribute in achieving FOIA implementation compliance within their respective public institutions.

Dr, Gloria gave some pratical strategies towards the implementation and adoption of FOIA principles to include: encouraging  MDAs to increase their online presence; increased quantity and quality of information on MDAs platforms; increased number of queries responded to daily and reduced timeline in responding to requests. The OGP National Coordinator admonished MDAs to strive in projecting the FOIA space through continuous training of MDA’s FOIA desk officers, and advocating for its full domestication. 

While speaking at the same event, Mr. Jonathan Ebe, a Data Analyst, Public and Private Development Center (PPDC), said OGP Countries that have made commitment to the FOIA, especially ambitious commitments across multiple action plans have become more open to other countries according to third party assessments. 

He continued that on Beneficial Ownership, Nigeria has become the first African country to gather Beneficial Ownership Data in line with Open Ownership Data Standard and is committed to make this information public.  He revealed that a recent analysis by the Task Justice Network Africa, 23 out of 54 African countries now have relevant law and regulations to foster freedom of information.

He therefore encouraged the public to contact relevant officials with a view to accessing FOI information and shared learning.  He also urged MDAs to always comply with the FOI Act as it is a fundamental pillar in ensuring transparency and accountability in line with President Ahmed Bola Tinubu's reform Agenda.

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