By DAVID DAVID
Akwa Ibom State Government House, Ministry of Information and Strategy, State House of Assembly among other Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the State have been ranked as the “least transparent sectors of government” in terms of access to information.
Unveiling the first Subnational Freedom of Information Act Compliance and Transparency Rankings on Tuesday in Uyo, a non governmental organisation, Public and Private Development Centre, PPDC, in partnership with the Akwa Ibom Access to Information Team, ATIT, said 29 MDAs in Akwa Ibom State were ranked based on their compliance with the provisions of the FOIA, 2011.
The ranking which was done to mark the 10th year anniversary of the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) in Nigeria, was aimed at assessing the level of compliance to the FOIA by government ministries, departments and agencies in the state.
Speaking at the event, the PPDC Legal Adviser, Sam Offia said the 29 MDAs were ranked based on proactive disclosure, level of disclosure and responsiveness to request for information.
He disclosed that at the end of the ranking, Bureau of Public Procurement with 28 points emerged first while Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Budget Office came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Offia admitted that change from MDAs has to do with time, adding that the essence of the ranking is not to witch-hunt anybody.
“We know that there is Official Secret Act and the Civil Service Rule which debar civil servants from disclosing information but FOIA came to implement what is already in existence.
“At the national level MDAs are beginning to understanding and we have been getting positive results.
“The results we got when we started are not the same with what we have today. This is what we will be doing till we get to that level of understanding where we see Nigeria as belonging to all of us and we need to be open to one another.”
Reacting to the ranking results, the representative of Development Research and Synergy Initiative, Princess Umoh expressed satisfaction in the process and appealed that copies of the ranking results should be sent to all MDAs so that they would be aware that people are watching them.
Mr. Akan James from Democracy African Youth Parliament said sensitisation of government’s agencies should be intensified.
“With the ranking results we need to intensify sensitisation because ignorance has played a key role in making MDAs act this way.
“If most MDAs understand the implications of what this ranking, the would not have behaved the way they did.”
The representative of USAID State2State, Mrs. Munachinso Odulana urged PPDC to do more in order to make other MDAs more responsive in terms of access to information.
She called for training and top level engagement to make all MDAs active.
The highpoint of the event was the presentation of award to Bureau of Public Procurement by PPDC.