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Media rights indicts ministry of labour over non-disclosure of information


Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a group that monitors the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Acts among government parastatals and other agencies in the country has indicted the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for undermining the provisions of the Acts. 

The group said it has admitted the ministry into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame.

The group specifically criticised the Ministry for continually failing to comply with the FOI Act for the seven years that the Law has been in existence.

Announcing the induction of the Ministry into the Hall of Shame, MRA’s Director of Programmes, Mr. Ayode Longe, explained in a statement that the Ministry was in breach of virtually all its obligations under the FOI Act.

It alleged that the ministry has persistently violated or disregarded its duties under the law with impunity for nearly seven years.

According to Longe: “The essence of government is to serve the people and it is the right of the people to be served right. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment plays an important role in the Nigerian society”, adding, “It deals with industrial relations, employment and labour matters, all of which affect the economy of the country as well as the wellbeing of citizens, and as such, the Ministry should be transparent and accountable in all its dealing and should comply with the provisions of all laws, especially those that are aimed at engendering good governance, such as the Freedom of Information Act.”

The group noted that in the light of its persistent non-compliance with relevant laws such as the FOI Act, it is perhaps not surprising that the Ministry has not been able to live up to the expectations of Nigerians in the fulfilment of its mandate, particularly in the area of job creation, with the current unprecedented and intolerably high level of unemployment in country.

Longe observed that given the clear crises in the labour sector and in industrial relations in the country, more transparency and accountability on the part of government could have elicited better understanding from ordinary citizens about the economic circumstances of the country and some sympathy for the situation that the government has found itself. 

He added that by their reluctance to be transparent and provide citizens with information, public institutions like the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment are not doing themselves or the government in general any favour.

The statement further noted: “The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment was failing in its obligation to comply with section 2 of the FOI Act, which requires it to proactively publish certain types of information and update such information regularly, including operational guidelines, manuals, decisions, reports, names and salaries of all employees of the institution, initiatives, programmes and other relevant information.”

The MRA Official also accused the Ministry of not complying with other statutory requirements such as Section 29 of the Act, which places an obligation on the Ministry, like all other public institutions to submit an annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation on its implementation of the Act.

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