By Ngozi Ekhator
No fewer than 50 publishers of online newspapers are expected in Abuja, Thursday for capacity building on the provisions and application of Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act.
The training is supported by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme, funded by the European Union, but managed by the British Council.
ROLAC’s lead Consultant on the Freedom of Information Act, Dr. Walter Duru, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday said the target participants are members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers-GOCOP and other select online publishers in Nigeria.
Duru, who also chairs the Board of the Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria explained that the training is put together to deepen the understanding of publishers on the use and application of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
While commending ROLAC for what he described as the programme’s huge investments in transparency initiatives in Nigeria, he lamented the poor use of the act by the citizens, adding that the training is one of the ways of enhancing the capacity of non-state actors, while further spreading the message of the FOI Act.
According to him, “the FOI Act aims to make public records and information more freely available and enables citizens to hold the government accountable in the event of the misappropriation of public funds or failure to deliver public services. Unfortunately, there is an embarrassingly low compliance level with the provisions of the Act in Nigeria among public institutions.”
“On the part of the citizens, there is an abysmally low use of the FOI Act. A recent FOI Implementation Assessment by the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption- MIIVOC, with support from ROLAC showed that the capacity level of non-state actors on the provisions and use of the FOI Act is still very low.”
“Media practitioners are also not taking advantage of the Act to access information that could enhance their profession. This is one of the reasons for this engagement.”
Thursday’s event is supported by the European Union (funded) Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme (managed by the British Council), in collaboration with the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC); Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria (FOIC-N) and the FOI Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ).