The Communique Issued At A Two-Day Training Of Key Government Officials On Freedom Of Information Act 2011 Organized by CAFSO-WRAG for Development And Supported by Open Society Initiative For West Africa (OSIWA) Held at Queen’s Court Hotel, Ado-Ekiti On 24th & 25th of May, 2017
CAFSO-WRAG for Development with funding support by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) organised a two-day training programme on the 24th and 25th May, 2017 to equip the skills of principal officers, and Civil Society Organisations on the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
The participants numbering about 45 were drawn from across selected government ministries, departments and agencies and civil society actors designated as FOIA Advocacy Champions in the southwest, Nigeria.
The training observed that it is only in Ekiti State that the state level law on FOIA has been enacted while many people were not aware of the law in the state. The training also decried the conflictingjudgmentss recorded across the country which are ossifying the implementation of FOIA. The training also frowned at the localised attacks on the media and the recent “black out” against one of the media covering the activities at the Aso Villa.
At the training session, the following topics and activities were covered:
- The Role of Public Officials in the Unfettered Implementation of FOI Act in Nigeria.
- The Challenge of Smooth Implementation of FOIA in Nigeria: Issues and Prospects.
- Analysis and Commentary on the 32 sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
- Animation on information handling processes.
- Role play scenario: public officials depicting information-giving process
- Group work on the evaluation of community characteristics and information needed.
- Harmonizing public records and information to be released to the public.
At the end of the training session, the participants came up with the following recommendations:
- Career officers at the training session should replicate the workshops at their various MDAs so as to increase awareness among civil servants and also ensure that Desk Officers are appointed.
- State actors should entrench the culture of openness while the political class should be sensitized on the need to embrace FOIA in order to improve the image of the government.
- Officers dealing with FOIA should develop and maintain proper record keeping for easy access to information by members of the public.
- FOIA should be integrated into the school curriculum to enhance its proper understanding by students while efforts should be made to sensitise the general public on the importance of the FOIA.
- There should be a future review of the law to make provision for the time limit to discharge with any litigation that might arise from same.
- Conflicting and inconsistent laws impeding the implementation of the FOIA should be repealed to allow for its effective workability across the country.
- There is the need for the review of the Ekiti State FOI Law to provide for all residents of the state to have access to information from all public institutions.
- FOIA should be translated into local languages throughout the Federation for the benefit of the local communities that do not speak the English Language.
- Partnership between CSOs, media and public officials should be strengthened for the successful implementation of the FOIA in Nigeria.
- Development partners should support wider training of public officials in other geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Signed on behalf of all the participants by the:
1. Dr Tola Winjobi representing CSOs and programme anchor
2. Mr C.T. Apata representing Ministry of Information
3. Mrs. Ayobami Tolulope Afolabi representing Ministry of Lands
4. Mr. Emmanuel Ajayi Ayodele representing Ministry of Finance
5. Mr. Tola Adenekan representing CSOs
6. Mr. Fred Ologuntoye representing CSOs
7. Mr. Sola Afariogun representing CSOs
8. Ms. Moji Akinsanya representing CSOs