ICRC, NIPC, NOA top 2023 FOI ranking

THE Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and National Orientation Agency (NOA) have emerged as the top three winners of the 2023 National Freedom of Information (FOI) compliance ranking.

The ranking was done by a coalition of civil society organisations including the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Public-Private Development Centre (PPDC), Right to Know (R2K), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and BudgIT.

The coalition ranked 238 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and assigned points based on their level of responsiveness to FOI requests sent by the coalition members and proactive disclosure of relevant information to the public.

In 2011, former President Goodluck Jonathan signed the FOI Act into law to make public records and information more freely available and accessible.

The ICIR reports that more than a decade after this law was signed, some MDAs still flout the law by not responding to requests. 

According to the Act, the public institution to which the application was made is expected to make available the information requested within seven days.

However, the ranking of MDAs by the coalition is done annually to commemorate the United Nations’ International Day for Universal Access to Information, marked on September 28.

Speaking at the award presentation, the National Coordinator Open Government Partnership, Gloria Ahmed, said access to information was a  critical tool to help the government succeed. 

Ahmed added that with the advent of technology, it became easier to publish information and MDAs must tag along this development.

She said, “We must do everything to protect and expand the online space in accessing information. The FOIA is 12 years, and it is expected that the Act grows to reflect its age and exhibit added features.”

Also, Jonathan Ebe, a data analyst of the Public and Private Development Center, said the ranking by the coalition was part of an advocacy to promote access to information from the Federal Government MDAs.

Proactive disclosure

The coalition also ranked the MDAs on the proactive disclosure of information on the institutions’ websites.

Some of this information includes the information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution, the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of employees and officers of the institution.

Others are the name of every official and the final records of voting in all proceedings of the institution; files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant licences or agreements; 

The list includes the reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent contractors for the institution; a description of the organisation and responsibilities of the institution, including details of the programme and functions of each division, branch and department of the institution; and others. 

According to the ranking, two institutions had full proactive disclosure of public information in 2023, representing an 81 per cent decline in the 2022 results, while 32 institutions achieved partial proactive disclosure on their website.

The ICIR reported how the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission emerged as the winner in 2021 and the Bureau of Public Service Reform as the winner in 2022.

Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold the government into account. Shoot him a mail at [email protected] or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

Glory Osho

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