A COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF ABEOLUMO HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION PAYS AN ADVOCACY VISIT TO THE CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION TO LOBBY THE HOUSE TO BUY INTO THE IDEA OF ADOPTING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN ELETICUN STATE. SEVERAL ATTEMPTS TO CONVINCE THE COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE AND ATTORNEY GENERAL FAILED SO THE NEXT LINE OF ACTION IS TO TURN TO THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
The group’s assignment was a mock advocacy visit, so the project was broken into steps. The group worked under the assumption that a series of letters had been exchanged between the Coalition and the Chairman, House Committee on Information. A date had been set. The Advocacy Visit was the next.
The problem was identified: the refusal of the AG and Commissioner of Justice to adopt the FOIA in Eletikun State, stating that it does not apply to his state.
The Objective of the project: To convince the State and the AG and Commissioner for Justice through the House of assembly (Chairman, house Committee on Information) on the desirability and benefits of adopting the FOI Act in the state. The major task was to convince the Chairman, and by extension the AG and the State.
Preparation for the Advocacy Visit is to be preceded by the design of the Advocacy Message with the following outline:
- Introduction- Preamble on the procedure the FOI Bill took before it was finally accented by the President and Commander-in-Chief;
- Development- Explanation of the main thrust of the Act backed by relevant quotation from the Act and a detailed explanation that neighbouring states had either passed it into law or in the process of doing so.
- Thesis statement- Attempt to correct the error of the AG by stating that any law passed by the Federation is binding on all states.
Clear cut analysis of the Advocacy Message:
- Choosing sections of the Act that emphasize “covering the field”
- A statement on the supremacy of the Federal Law over the State.
- Highlighting the benefits of adopting the Act in the state, especially to the House. A.) Protection of personal privacy, protection of serving public officers from adverse consequences for disclosing information without authorization and established procedures for the achievement of those purposes; B.) Proper record keeping and smooth operation of governance; C.) Proper public information of process of governance.
- Explanation of the efforts of the Group in the South-West with pictorial evidence, newspaper reports, features and other advocacy efforts.
Identification of Lead Speakers at the visit:
Speaker 1 to thank the Chairman and introduce members of the Group (A media person who is a member of the CSO groups was assigned this role particularly because media persons are usually familiar with both parties).
Speaker 2 was assigned to present the position of the Coalition.
Role-playing at the advocacy visit to the Chairman, House Committee on Information. Members of the Group were assigned roles as follows:
House Committee on Information:
- One or two Members.
Abeolumo Human Rights Coalition:
- Chairman (Coordinator)
- Other members