FOI: THE RIGHT TO KNOW: YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!!!
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011 affects everyone, every issue and every aspect of daily life. Freedom of Information is the foundation for open system of governance in Nigeria. It is important to the healthy functioning of our society and would directly impact the quality of life of people residing in Nigeria. It would foster an open and participatory system of governance where the government, public and private institutions contribute to and benefit from healthier, more transparent collaborative governance.
HOW WILL THE FOIA HELP MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR YOU?
- Everyone can access any information or record, subject to specific exemptions, in the custody of any public institution or private institution utilizing public funds, performing public functions or providing public services.
- Everyone is entitled to receive a request for information within seven (7) days.
- Everyone will enjoy open access to information on issues such as health and social development projects, public procurement and public budgeting, public private partnership projects, asset declaration of serving public officials, etc.
- Everyone can monitor the level of service delivery from government and their effectiveness in all areas including social policies, projects and policies, maternal, neo-natal and other medical care services, basic education and poverty eradication programmes.
- Everyone can now learn how budgetary allocations to repair, provide for, or fund public utilities such as hospitals, roads, power, potable water, etc. in the community are utilized and ensure that the right persons are held accountable for non-or shoddy performance.
- Communities can ensure the protection of their local environment through adequate information, enabling them to advocate against projects and programmes that negatively affect the local environment and livelihoods
- Communities and citizens will have access to information with which to determine whether or not they receive value-for-money for public works projects and investments.
- Government and the general public alike can now monitor the allocation and flow of scarce public resources to ensure that there is equitable distribution of development projects across the country.
- Parliament can access information and records with which to conduct its oversight role more effectively.
- Legislators will have authentic information necessary to make good laws and enhance their ability to effectively perform their legislative oversights duties.
- Business owners will be able to assess risks and operate their businesses more efficiently as they gain better understanding of complementary investments, competition or risk factors.
- Contractors bidding for contracts can determine whether the award of such contracts followed the necessary due process stipulated in existing public procurement processes, regulations and legislation.
- Farmers can gain information as to how much support they receive from government with respect to investments in farm nutrients and implements and also understand where these are deployed and for whose benefit.
- Budget administrators can more efficiently track where funds in the budget have been allocated and how much has actually been spent.
- Journalist and the press can ensure that they do factual reporting, eliminating a culture of rumour and conspiracy; and encouraging informed and healthy public debate.
- Grant administrators will have access to how research grant allocations to academic and other charges they pay daily to provide sanitation, security and other facilities in the market.
- Policy makers will have access to reliable information from which they can distil empirical data for evaluating the successes of government policies and modifying them where necessary.
- Students, researchers and academia can access accurate and legitimate data for important researcher projects
- Career professionals can benefit from the creation of jobs in the management of public records: the FOIA will provide new revenue streams for consultants involved in public policy formulation, information management, policy research, dispute resolution, compliance officers, auditors and accountants as well as legal practitioners, amongst many others.
- Nigerians can exercise their electoral franchise from an informed position, inspiring them to become more active participants in the civic process.
- Anti-corruption measures will be complemented by the FOIA and anti-corruption agencies would be better resourced to carry out the fight against corruption.
- The public will have the necessary confidence and assurance about whether or not governance works for the people and, if not, who is responsible.