About 150 officers from various ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Civil Service were trained last month on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act at a workshop in Abuja.Organized by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), the one-day training workshop on Freedom of Information Act targeted Desk Officers on Records and Document Management Desk Officers across the Federal civil service.
Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (left); with Alhaji Abdullahi Yola, Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice; Mrs. Nkechi Ejele, Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Freedom of Information Act; and Honourable Friday Itulah, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Freedom of Information Act, at a training workshop on the Freedom of Information Act for Desk Officers from Federal public institutions, organized by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation in Abuja.
The theme of the workshop was “Towards Institutionalizing Efficient Records Management and Document Security in the Civil Service”.
The objectives of the workshop were to support best practices and build the capacity of relevant records management and documentation desk officers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The workshop had as resource persons, Mr. Emmanuel Omonowa, Legal Adviser in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation; Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA); Dr. Bassey Etim-Ikang, Assistant Director in the Department of Planning, Research and Statistics in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; and Dr. Francisca Odeka, a consultant.
The workshop was attended by Mrs. Nkechi Ejele, the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Freedom of Information Act, who delivered a welcome address at the opening ceremony; Alhaji Abdullahi Yola, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Justice, who represented the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).
Honourable Friday Itulah, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Freedom of Information Act at the National Assembly, also delivered a goodwill message at the workshop,
Hon. Itulah noted that the responsibility of the National Assembly is that of oversight as it is not the duty of the National Assembly to implement a law that it has made.
Stressing that the duty to implement the Law falls squarely within the mandate of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, he observed that “it falls on us (the National Assembly) to look at the implementation of the Act.”
Hon. Itulah said in performing its task, the National Assembly will have to take the opportunity of identifying “those who are clogs in the wheel of progress” through their non-implementation of the Act.
According to him, “the whole intendment of the Freedom of Information Act is to promote transparency in governance. Gone are the days when the government had to keep everything close to its chest.”
Hon. Itulah defended members of the National Assembly against allegations that they are earning jumbo salaries while other Nigerians are suffering, saying “It is wrong to assume that members of the National Assembly are getting so much.”
He noted that “members of the public have the impression that the members of the National Assembly are given money in cash”, arguing that members of the National Assembly are not at all involved in the implementation of projects beyond identifying priority projects in their constituencies and helping to identify where such projects should be located in the event that they are approved and provided for in the budget.
Hon Itulah emphasized that “everything we do at the National Assembly is very transparent.”
The workshop proper focused on Understanding the Implementation Guidelines and the Reporting Template for the Freedom of Information Act; Efficient Records Keeping and Compliance as being key to Apprioriate Freedom of Information Act Institutionalization in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Efficient and Effective Records and Document Management in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the Implementation of The FOIA.