The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) has recently organised the 2022 capacity building on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for its staff/FOI Desk Officers.
Held at the Federal Secretariat Conference Room in Abuja on Monday, 26th September, 2022, the training sought to acquaint the officers with the provisions of the Act.
Speaking at the flag-off of the event, the BPSR Director-General, Dasuki I. Arabi, said the act is expected to guide and improve compliance of Public Institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower Citizens the right to access information held by the state.
He said, “Part of the strategy adopted by Government for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act amongst others include periodic training programmes for all government agencies on FOIA implementation, and the dedication of desk officers in the management of information in MDAs.
“Good governance and Transparency cannot strive in a Nation where fundamental rights of Access to Information are denied to Citizens, the Freedom of Information Act therefore provides platform for inclusiveness, that seeks to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision – making process,” the DG added.
As a lead Agency for initiating and coordinating Reforms in the Public Sector, BPSR, according to the DG, had in the last few years worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and as well working to ensure that the FOIA is institutionalized within the Public Sector.
These interventions, according to Arabi include; Lessons and Exchange programmes on FOI with sister agencies, Membership of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Training of information Officers in Block, Institutionalization of FOI through the BPSR Score card for ranking MDAs websites, Development of a feedback mechanism on the website, through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request are deployed and development a score-card for ranking the performances of websites of Public institutions using specific benchmarks including FOI portal.
Others include creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations(CSO) on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes, such as the monthly Lunch Time Seminar series, Open Government Partnership (OGP), engaging Reform Desk Officers service, deployment of information Technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management in the implementation of FOIA, through intranet system and Electronic Data Management System (EDMS), working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of Citizens in Public policies
He also said the bureau has conducted a pilot study on four MDAs of Federal Ministry of Justice, Code of Conduct Bureau, Federal Ministry of Finance and Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation in 2019, with the objective of identifying the bottle-necks impeding the implementation of the Freedom of Information by Public agencies.
The DG also said had in the past few years consistently maintained the top-most position in the FOI National ranking of MDAS score-card for proactive disclosure of Information conducted by coalition of Civil Society Organizations.
Aliyu Umar Aliyu
Ag.Head Strategic Communication Department (BPSR)
28th September, 2022.