‘100 public institutions breach freedom of information law’

NAICOM Building

NAICOM Building

The Federal Ministries of Water Resources, Justice and Information as well as 97 others have been indicted for non-compliance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (FOI) in issues of procurement and capital expenditure.

The Public and Private Development Center (PPDC) which gave the verdict in its 2016 compliance survey on 131 public institutions ranked the Bureau of Public Service Reform, (BPSR), National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), National Pension Commission (PENCOM) Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) first, second, third and fourth.

However, the Water Resources, Information Justice ministries stood at 97th, 44th and 31st positions.

Speaking at the presentation of the document in Abuja yesterday, PPDC’s Executive Director, Seember Nyager, said the survey was to promote accountability, adding that of all the institutions investigated, only BPSR was proactive in the disclosure on procurement plans, processes and capital expenditure.

She noted the study was carried out following FOI requests from procurement monitors to federal institutions.

“The compliance benchmark relied upon to rank these public institutions emanates from the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and includes levels of proactive disclosure, timelines for disclosing information on request, levels of disclosure on request and the cost of disclosure,” Nyager stated.

She added that in 2014, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) ranked first, stating that the BPSR which was ranked eighth last year, however, made it to the top this year due to its ability to respond promptly to Nigerians.

Its Director-General, Dr. Joe Abba, said: “We were ranked eighth last year and to have improved to the extent that we came first this year is quite gratifying and the credit must go the public servants in the procurement department, our communication team as well as our partners from the Right to know Initiative.

“Citizens actually know very little about what the government does and how he does it and that breeds suspicions. And so, when you proactively disclose information, it lessens suspicions. So, even as government, it helps us engage better with citizens.

“I think what we did was to fully engage with the FOI Act so by disclosing proactively everything we were supposed to disclose with regards to procurement as soon as we filed our returns with the Bureau of Public Procurement, it was immediately on our website.”

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