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Bureau appeals to National Assembly to comply with FOI Act

Dr Joe Abah, Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), has appealed to the National Assembly members to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Abah made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said that the FOIA which was passed in 2011 was still under-utilised because many still did not comply with the act.

Abah said that the under-utilisation of the act was hindering the country’s development, adding that the act was meant to ensure open government policy.

“ I think in a nutshell, the whole idea of open government is ensuring that citizens have an opportunity to work with government to improve governance.

“ You are aware that we pass the Freedom of Information Act in 2011 which is still underutilised.

“And we still have those that passed it themselves, the National Assembly not complying with it sufficiently.

“So, that is the area we need to do a lot of more work because the freedom of information act is a very powerful tool in ensuring accountability in government.’’

He said that there was the need to create a platform through which the voice of the citizenry could be heard by government.

Abah said the Federal Government had signed up to the open government partnership this year with the collaboration of civil society to co-create its first National Action Plan.

“That is quite important because as government what we usually do is to sit down in the office and write a plan that we think the people want.

“For the first time, we have actually draw civil society in to jointly produce that plan and that plan has four key priority areas.

“ First is on fiscal transparency to look at how money is spent and how accessible information is to the public and how accountable we are to the public.

“The second is on anti corruption, as you know, unless we tackle corruption; a lot of the efforts we make are likely to be limited in its impact.

“The third is the freedom of information; and the fourth is on accountability and citizenship engagement.

“So we want to have a standing platform where government meet with citizens and civil society and discuss governance issues and what the priority should be.

He said the openness in governance prompted the bureau to present the first national action plan on open government partnership in Paris on Dec. 8.

The director general said that the chief executive officers of the 70 countries of Open Government Policy (OGP) community commended Nigeria action plan as one of the most detailed, ambitious and realistic.

He, however, said that the country would not relent on its oars as it would ensure that the national plan was turn down into a specific work plan with a clear monitory and evaluation framework.


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