TETfund lacks accountability, says media rights group
Worried about the lack of accountability and respect for the rule of law, officials of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have indicted the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) over the breach of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, saying the agency exhibited an utter disregard for the citizenry.
Specifically, the group accused TETFund of failure to comply with its duties and obligations under the FOI Act, 2011 and its repeated refusal to honour the numerous applications for information made to it by several organisations over the last six years.
Announcing TETFund’s selection as an inductee into the FOI Hall of Shame, MRA’s Programme Officer, Idowu Adewale, explained that the agency has displayed utmost disregard for the rights of citizens to seek and obtain information from public institutions while also demonstrating a near absolute contempt for the law.
Adewale, in a statement said, “Multiple requests made by various non-governmental organisations to TETFund were either completely ignored without even an acknowledgment which is contrary to the provisions of the FOI Act, or where it responded at all, it refused to provide any of the requested information or, as it did on one occasion, provided only part of the information sought”.
Describing TETfund’s attitude as a complete breach of its obligations, Adewale alleged that in its short years of existence, the agency has consistently exhibited an inexcusable intolerance for the rights of citizens and civic groups to hold public institutions accountable in accordance with the FOI Act while at the same time betraying an unmistakable disdain for the duties imposed on it by law.
“TETFund is uniquely positioned to have begun operations on the right footing, having been established the same year the FOI Act was passed; it had the opportunity to kick-off its operations by implementing the FOI Act which would have gone a long way to ensure transparency and accessibility to citizens as well as the proper keeping and management of its records. Instead, TETFund, which ought to have submitted six annual, reports to the Attorney General of the federation, has not submitted a single report.”
“As a result of the failure of the body to submit its annual implementation reports over the last six years, vital statistical information which are supposed to be made known to the public, the Attorney-General of the federation and the relevant committees of the National Assembly are not available.
Adewale said that information obtained from various organisations that have submitted FOI requests to TETFund showed its poor level of responsiveness to such requests.
“For instance, BudgIT, a civic organisation based in Lagos, wrote to TETFund in January 2017 pursuant to the FOI Act, seeking information on its total cash inflow for 2014 and 2015 as well as a list of its reconciled projects within the period and the location of each of those projects, but received no response”.
“BudgIT sent TETFund a reminder to the request in February 2017 another on September 25, and yet another on November 15 but still did not receive any response from the agency.
Mr. Adewale further argued that “TETFund has not fulfilled its proactive disclosure obligations under Section 2 of the FOI Act as it has not published either on its website or anywhere else, the 16 categories of information that the FOI Act requires all public institutions to proactively publish and disseminate widely to members of the public through various means, including print, electronic and online sources”.
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