The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has emerged second runner up in the 2021 Freedom of Information (FOI) Compliance and Transparency Rankings performed by the National FOI Cohort, a civil society coalition.

Receiving the award at the NOA Headquarters in Abuja, the Agency’s Director General, Dr. Garba Abari described the 3rd place award as a indication of NOA’s commitment to exceptional corporate practices and a milestone achievement, coming from a distant 52nd position in 2017 and 17th position in 2020.

Abari said NOA has been championing advocacy for citizens’ exploration of the FOI Act provisions since the law was enacted in 2011, adding that this commitment was based on the Agency’s conviction that the noble objectives of the Act will not be achieved unless the provisions of the FOI Act are clearly understood and given effect by citizens and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). He noted that the rationale behind the FOI Act was to, among others, ensure public participation and openness in the business of governance; ensure adherence to laid down procedures in the conduct of public affairs; institutionalize transparency and accountability in governance; stem corruption; and ensure scarce resources are judiciously deployed for the well-being of citizens.

While urging staff of NOA not to relent in the drive to sensitize the public on policies, programmes and activities of government in line with the Agency’s mandate, the NOA Director General expressed optimism that with greater dedication and creativity, NOA will soon lead other organizations in the country in the application of the FOI Act.

Presenting the award on behalf of the National FOI Cohort, Ms. Ene Nwankpa, Coordinator, Right to Know (R2K) Nigeria said the award was in recognition of NOA’s compliance with proactive disclosure requirements under the Act, timely responsiveness to requests for information, level of disclosure and publication of procurement processes on the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). She said that NOA came 3rd out of 213 MDAs that were assessed for the 2021 ranking and commended the Agency for its resilience in improving its FOI compliance over the years.

Meanwhile, the NOA, in partnership with its partners, has concluded Course Two of its Fact Checking Training which aims to raise an army of patriots who would work towards curbing the menace of disinformation and disinformation in Nigeria.

In his address at the opening ceremony of the training which drew participants from the military, paramilitary, civil service and civil society, NOA Director General, Garba Abari observed that many Nigerians are stuck in automatic thinking rather than analytic thinking, hence their susceptibility to disinformation. He said the idea behind the training was to arm Nigerians with the critical thinking required to prevent fake news from spreading at all as against trying to debunk it after it has spread. The course hopes to train 37,000 Nigerians in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory on fact checking in five years.

Paul Odenyi

Assistant Director, Press

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