The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) and Right To Know, a civil society organisation have collaborated to enlighten Ministries, Departments and Agencies on Open Government Partnership and Freedom of Information Act, with a view to deepen their awareness of the objectives and essential elements of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and also raise their capacity on Freedom of Information Act.
At a Lunch Time Seminar tagged: “Open Government and Freedom of Information” held at the Auditorium of Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja recently, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah , who was also one of the guest speakers, in his remarks at the event noted the current Administration’s commitment to zero tolerance for corrupt practices, which was amply demonstrated when President Muhammed Buhari signed into Open Government Partnership initiatives alongside former British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron at a Global Anti-Corruption Summit in London in May, 2016.
He said that the Bureau of Public Service Reforms considered the twin of Open Government and Freedom of Information as important elements in the ongoing fight against corruption while arguing further that it was equally important Public Servants are made to be fully aware of the objectives and essential elements of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
“The more open and accountable we are to the public, the more public support that government will receive for its initiatives. It is for this reason we have championed this cause”, the DG further stated.
In his presentation on “Open Government Partnership”, the Director –General explained to participants at the seminar, comprising of Directors of Reform Coordination and Directors of Information Units in various MDAs, on the principles of Open Government and the commitments of OGP member states to use their national action plans as a means to implement 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
While justifying the collaboration with R2k in organising this seminar, Dr Abah said partnering with Civil Society, including the Media, to co-create a National Action Plan was also an element in Open Government. This, according to him, would foster public participation, government integrity, Freedom of Information and Public Service Delivery.
Mr Benjamin Okolo, Head, Freedom of Information Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, who was also one of the guest speakers urged all MDAs to follow the FOI guidelines by making Public Records and Information more freely available to ensure transparency.
He however advised them to be more proactive in responding to applications seeking for information within 7 days, as stipulated in FOI Act, except for requests that require a large volume of records.
The National Coordinator, R2K, Mrs Ene Nwankpa in her goodwill message, said that after the passage of FOI Act, the task before all stakeholders now was to see that it is fully implemented. She called on all relevant agencies of government to work as a team, as they are all partners in progress.
She lauded BPSR for the mutual collaboration they have enjoyed over the years.
Florence Eke, (Mrs)
Head, Strategic Communication Dept.,
Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR)