*Security agencies rank poor in FOI compliance
By Joseph Erunke, Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, is leading all federal government agencies in terms Freedom of Information, FOI compliance and transparency.
On the other hand, the nation’s security agencies rank very poorly in FOI compliance and transparency.
A public sector ranking on Freedom of Information compliance and transparency, released, Thursday, showed also that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC tied with 57.5 points to the second position.
These were disclosed in Abuja, at the launch of the 2019 National Freedom of Information Compliance and Transparency Ranking,carried out by the Public and Private Development Centre,PPDC, in collaboration with Connected Development,CODE, BudgIT, Basic Rights Watch,BRW, Media Rights Agenda,MRA, and Right to Know (R2K).
The NERC was said to have emerged with a cumulative of 67.5 points accrued from partial proactive disclosure, timely response to a request for information, FOI training, and full disclosure of requested information.
Speaking at the event, on behalf of the groups, Mr. Hamzat Lawal, from the Connected Development, CODE, explained that “203 public institutions inclusive of the security sectors were ranked based on selected parameters stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act 2011.”
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He explained that the rankings which “have been independently hosted by the PPDC annually on September 28, since 2013 to commemorate the International Rights to Know Day and is aimed at entrenching accountability and TR in transparency in public and security sector institutions by ensuring Ministries Departments and Agencies, MDAs, liberate data and citizens have timely and unrestricted access to information.”
“In April 2019, PPDC in its effort to improve the rankings by giving it more visibility and credibility reached out, and formed partnerships with (pilot) Civil Society Organizations who make use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and work in the transparency and accountability space.
“This collaboration has now given birth to the National Freedom of Information Ranking and a total of 203 public institutions inclusive of the Security Sectors were ranked based on selected parameters stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act 2011,” he explained.
The parameters for the rankings, according to him, were “proactive disclosure; responsiveness to requests for information(Timeliness); level of the disclosure; FOI training; FOI desk officers and FOI annual reporting.”
“Coming in the first position in the 2019 Public Sector ranking was the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) with a cumulative of 67.5 points accrued from partial proactive disclosure, timely response to a request for information, FOI training, and full disclosure of requested information.
“The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) tied with 57.5 points and were both awarded the second position,” he had said.
Speaking further, he said: “As other public institutions continue to strive for full proactive disclosure of information, the same cannot be said about the security sector agencies, who ranked poorly this year as a result of a lack of compliance to the FOI Act (2011).”
“The Federal Fire Service ranked higher than other security sector institutions with a low point of 22.5 keeping them ahead of the pack,” he added.
One of the highlights of the event was a panel session themed, “Data, Institutions and Good Governance.”
The panel discussion centered on evaluating the role of MDAs in nation-building as well as using data as a tool for solving national problems.
The panelists stressed the need for access to information stating that this will positively impact how public resources are managed as Citizens will have the necessary information which will allow them to actively participate in Governance.
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