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Nigeria

Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA) (NG0024)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2022

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s): Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Public Service Institute of Nigeria, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Science and Technology, National Information for Technology Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, NOA, Ministry of Communication, Code of Conduct Bureau, NTA, FRCN,NAN,VON, Ministry of Education, National Judicial Council, National Assembly, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. Right to Know, Media Rights Agenda, Public and Private Development Centre, International Press Centre, Freedom of Information Coalition of Nigeria, Nigerian Bar Association, NUJ, Ethics & Corporate Compliance Institute of Nigeria, the Academia, Youths in Africa Anti-Corruption Network, Safe & Sound Youth Awareness Initiative, SERAP, R2K, Open Judiciary Initiative, Private Media Organizations, Right to Information Cooperators (RtIC), Enough is Enough, PTCIJ, PPDC, Youths in Africa Anti-Corruption Network, Open Justice Initiative, DATAPHYTE, BudgIT, The Meluibe Empowerment Foundation, Centre for Health Equity and Justice (CEHEJ).

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Brief description:
This commitment seeks to enhance compliance with the FOIA mandatory publication requirements by Public Institutions to proactively disclose information to the public, submit annual reports to AGF on FOI requests received and responded to in any given year by 1st February of the following year, and improve their responsiveness to requests from the public for information under the FOIA.

General problem:
1. Low awareness, skills and knowledge of the FOIA provisions and processes by citizens and public servants
2. Lack of designated officers responsible for Freedom of Information in most public institutions
3. Lack of sanctions against public institutions and FOI responsible officers who do not respond to FOI requests or/and report to AGF annually.
4. Inadequate number of the public institution having FOI Portals
5. Few public institutions are submitting their annual reports to the AGF.
6. Lack of infrastructure to support digital collection and management of information to facilitate timely retrieval of information requested for

Specific OGP issue:
1. Members of the public’s participation in governance through the utilization of FOIA
2. Lack of transparency and accountability in government affairs and activities

Rationale for commitment:
There is currently a high level of non-compliance regarding proactive disclosure, responses to FOI requests and annual reporting obligations of public institutions on these requests and their status, and this situation affects public trust in the government which ultimately promotes corruption as information is hidden from public view and interrogation

Main objective:
To promote and actualize the right of citizens to request and receive information about how they are governed and how their country’s resources are utilized.

Anticipated impact:
Improved compliance on the provisions of the FOI Act

IRM Midterm Status Summary

10. Improve FOIA compliance on mandatory publication provisions requirement, annual reporting obligations to AGF, and response to FOI requests

Main Objective

“To promote and actualize the right of citizens to request and receive information about how they are governed and how their country’s resources are utilized.”

Milestones

  1. Identification of MDAs that are yet to designate Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officers
  2. Designation of 350 Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officer in public institutions identified in (2) above and publication of their contact details
  3. Training of the designated staff in 2 above and other staff of public institutions involved in the implementation of FOIA
  4. Integration of the FOI role into the individual or group performance review of the FOI responsible individual and/or unit in public institutions
  5. Adoption and application of punitive administrative measures against public institutions and officials adjudged to be undermining the effectiveness of the Act or breaching its provisions
  6. Deployment of an E-FOI portal, or any other digital platform where citizens can make FOI requests and receive responses, in at least 150 public institutions
  7. Adoption and implementation of Practice Direction to the Judiciary through the Chief Justice of Nigeria to guide the court on FOI cases
  8. Adoption of technology-based information systems and standards that will ensure that information is collected, collated and stored in a form that enables public officials to efficiently and effectively retrieve the required information within the 7-day time-limit for response to FOI requests as prescribed by the FOIA

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/

 

Commitment Analysis

This commitment’s goal is to enhance the government’s capacity to comply with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. It intends to encourage the proactive release of information, response to information requests, and submission of reports to the attorney general of the Federation. This commitment builds on Commitment 10 of Nigeria’s 2017–2019 national action plan.

This commitment includes eight milestones. Four activities carried from the previous action plan intend to designate, train, and evaluate FOI desk officers in public institutions; publish their contact details; enable electronic submission of FOI requests; and promote proper collection and storage of data – which would make it easier to retrieve information within the time lines defined by the law. Another important milestone aims to introduce accountability mechanisms in cases of noncompliance with the release of information. This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it envisions various measures to ensure implementation of the FOI Act. The commitment is also relevant to the OGP value of public accountability, as it seeks to adopt and apply punitive administrative measures against officials who fail to comply with the FOI Act.

If implemented fully, this commitment could have a transformative potential impact on increasing public institutions’ (MDAs) compliance with the FOI Act. Increasing the number of MDAs with designated FOI officers could play an important role. Most agencies still lack FOI units within their departments. [134] As of November 2018, only 130 out of 900 MDAs (14%) had relevant officers assigned. [135] The commitment’s goal of 350 desk officers would double the current number.

Additionally, electronic portals for submission of FOI requests would ease the process of requesting information. Previously, information requests have been largely paper based. The administrative procedures coupled with a paper-based records management system have contributed to MDAs’ difficulties with meeting the seven-day limit for releasing requested information. As of May 2020, only 11 MDAs had e-FOI portals, and only five were in the process of building portals, [136] meaning that the commitment’s goal of 150 public institutions with e-portals would represent substantial progress.

Moreover, the commitment foresees two milestones (5 and 7) with accountability measures for noncompliance, which could create an incentive for higher compliance to the law. However, the action plan does not clarify what these accountability measures would include and how they could be applied. Currently, the compliance rate among 900 MDAs is less than 10% according to the research conducted by the CSO, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Under the previous action plan, the government developed a practice direction to guide courts on FOI Cases, which had not been submitted to the judiciary by the beginning of the current action plan. [137]

Given the number of MDAs engaged in this commitment, the IRM recommends establishing coordination and communication across relevant units with a consistent message and approach to implementation of FOI rules, drawing on examples of MDAs that have gone further in compliance with the FOI Act.

  • The Bureau of Public Service Reforms could engage in annual monitoring of MDAs’ compliance with the FOI Act and publish information about MDAs that do not meet the requirements.
  • Allocation of sufficient funding would be essential to properly resource MDAs and meet personnel training and technology needs to handle information requests.
[134] “Policy Recommendations for strengthening the Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in the Nigeria Federal Public Service,” Bureau of Public Service Reforms, The Presidency, Government of Nigeria, R2K, McArthur Foundation, December, 2018, in http://r2knigeria.org/index.php/policy-recommendations-for-strengthening-the-implementation-of-the-freedom-of-information-act-in-the-nigeria-federal-public-service, p.8.
[135] “Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 Training for MDAs”, Policy Alert, 4 October 2019, in https://policyalert.org/freedom-of-information-foi-act-2011-training-for-mdas/; “Policy Recommendations for strengthening the Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in the Nigeria Federal Public Service”, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, The Presidency, Government of Nigeria, R2K, McArthur Foundation, December, 2018, in http://r2knigeria.org/index.php/policy-recommendations-for-strengthening-the-implementation-of-the-freedom-of-information-act-in-the-nigeria-federal-public-service, p.21.
[136] Joseph Gowon Ichibor (Federal Ministry of Justice FOI Unit), Interview with IRM Researcher, May 2020: The MDAs with e-FOI portals were the Bureau of Public Service Reform, the Nigeria Extractives Industries and Transparency Initiative, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Public Complaints Commission, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Raw Material Research and Development Council, and the National Orientation Agency. The MDAs in the process of building e-FOI portals were the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the National Deposit Insurance Commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Federal Road Safety Corp, and the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
[137] “Nigeria 2019-2021 National Action Plan,” Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/, p.12.

Commitments

  1. Participatory Budgeting

    NG0015, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  2. Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard

    NG0016, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting

    NG0017, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives

    NG0018, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Implement EITI Standard

    NG0019, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry

    NG0020, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  8. Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy

    NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  9. Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management

    NG0023, 2019, Access to Information

  10. Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)

    NG0024, 2019, Access to Information

  11. Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0025, 2019, Access to Justice

  12. Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs

    NG0026, 2019, E-Government

  13. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  14. Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable

    NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  15. Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery

    NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building

  16. Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM

    NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle

    NG0001, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Open Contracting

    NG0002, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Extractive Sector Transparency

    NG0003, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Tax Reporting Standards

    NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  21. World Bank Doing Business Index

    NG0005, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  22. Beneficial Ownership Register

    NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing

    NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  24. Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  25. Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination

    NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  26. FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting

    NG0010, 2017, Access to Information

  27. FOIA Compliance for Disclosure

    NG0011, 2017, Access to Information

  28. Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  29. Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review

    NG0013, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  30. Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback

    NG0014, 2017, E-Government

Open Government Partnership