‘Full Implementation Of FoIA Best For Fighting Corruption’
Throwing its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s ongoing fight against corruption, the Federal Ministry of Justice has given the assurance that in addition to the legal perspective, ensuring full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) remains the best and easier way to fight the menace.
The Ministry said that Nigeria’s second most powerful legislation is the FoIA and it is superceded only by the Nigerian Constitution, stressing, “If we are able to use the Freedom of Information Act effectively, then we will begin to address and tackle corruption.”
Nigeria’s FOIA is the product of collaboration between citizens, organized civil societies and government. It took 17 years from its first draft bill to its adoption and subsequent assent by the former President Goodluck Jonathan on the May 28, 2011.
The Director, FoIA Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Stella Anukam dropped the hint yesterday while delivering a paper on ‘The Implementation of the FoIA 2011’ to senior officers at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja.
Anukam, who was visibly worried that the Ministry of Finance was among other government institutions yet to establish the Unit in its Ministry also disclosed that between year 2014 and April of 2015, only 60 Federal Institutions has so far established the FOIA Units in their offices.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation processed reports from 16 Public Institutions for the year 2011 by April of 2012, 32 reports for the year 2012 by April of 2013, 52 for the year 2013 by April of 2014 and 60 for the year 2014 by April of 2015.”
Anukam warned that it is expected that the level of compliance in each public institutions must be better each year both in number and content.
She, however, said that the Act is already facing difficult challenges for effective implementation which includes lack of good grasp of the FoIA on the part of public institutions, lack of necessary institutional capacity to implement the Act in some institutions, inability to meet timeline, bureaucratic bottle necks in public services, and inadequate training of all involved in the implementation of the Act.