Thursday, 13 Oct, 2011
N2N partners CSOs, agencies on FOI Act
Neighbour To Neighbour, N2N, has concluded plans to partner some civil society organizations and relevant agencies to sensitise Nigerians on the application of the Freedom of Information, FOI, Act.
In its weekly brainstorming session, the group resolved to partner with other groups so as to deliver on good governance.
It has also outlined strategies to organize town hall meetings on the FOI Act to empower communities to engage their political leaders and demand for accountability.
N2N is also intends to establish an online Whistle Blowers platform on the FOI Act so that the public can engage in social discourse and even report cases of violation of the Act on line.
Rima Shawulu Kwewum, Programme Director of N2N, who piloted the session noted that the Act had since been passed and that Nigerians were ignorant of the powers available to them under the Act.
He said that N2N would outline the implications of the Act on the public and what steps the public needed to take in engaging public officers under the FOI Act.
Kwewum also pointed out that the obvious weaknesses of the Act should be noted for future consideration.
Those weaknesses include the restriction of the Act to only the public sector rather than be expanded to include the private sector that its activities affect the public.
The discussants also noted that the jurisdiction of the Act should be made holistic while the fine of N500,000.00 imposed for a breach was a slap on the wrist of multinationals who can decide to offend and pay off such fines.
Earlier, Mr Tosin Adeyanju, who led the discourse highlighted the need for N2N to promote good governance through the sensitization of the people to utilize the FOI Act and raise their standard of living. He said as citizens, people and communities should be empowered to use the Act to demand information on contracts that affect their lives. He noted that the Act, if well applied, would open governance space and participation by the citizenry as well as encourage probity and accountability in public office.