LAGOS, Monday, January 29, 2017: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today named the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, a Federal agency charged with moulding “responsible and respectable citizens and leaders” as the latest inductee into the Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame as it indicted the institution for its apparent total disregard for FOI Act.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Programme Manager for FOI, Mr Ridwan Sulaimon, said the Centre was conferred with the dubious award following its poor rating on all of its duties and responsibilities under the FOI Act, adding that the agency exhibited a total disregard for the FOI Act and showed no indication of any effort to comply with any aspect of the Law.
The Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre is a human development institution established by an Act of the National Assembly “for the training and moulding of Nigeria citizenry to become responsible and respectable citizens and leaders.”
Mr. Sulaimon noted that: “it is ironic that a Centre established to address the leadership challenges confronting the country and on which the Federal Government has put its hope of moulding responsible citizens is wilfully breaking the Law, particularly a law aimed at ensuring transparent and accountable governance. This Centre obviously does not deserve to exist as it either does not know or is unable to meet even the most basic requirement of civic duties.”
MRA explained that the Centre was assessed on the basis of the duties and obligations of public institutions contained in the FOI Act and the Implementation Guidelines for the FOI Act issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation, which include the obligation to issue and submit annual reports on the implementation of the Act by the institution; to response to FOI requests from members of the public; to designate FOI desk officers and publicise their contacts; to train their officials on the public’s rights of access to information and to proactively publish certain categories of information even without anyone asking for them.
Mr. Sulaimon said: “Sadly, the Centre performed extremely poorly in virtually all of these indices.”
According to him, “Since the enactment of the FOI Act in 2011, the Centre has not submitted any annual implementation report to the Attorney General of the Federation, as required by Section 29 of the Act; it has not proactively published the 16 categories of information that it is required to publish in accordance with Section 2(3) and (4) of the Act; and there is no indication whatsoever that the Centre has designated any officer to whom requests for information may be sent. It has certainly not proactively published the title and address of such officer, putting it in breach of Section 2(3)(f) of the Act.
Besides, Mr. Sulaimon said, there is also no indication that the organisation has trained its personnel on the public’s right of access to information, as required by the Act.
He added that the Centre is also known to have ignored a request made to it for information, explaining that in January 2017, the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) submitted an FOI request to the Centre asking for records of payments for capital projects in 2016; list of contracts awarded by Centre in 2016; and the procurement plan within its approval threshold for the year 2017, but the request was ignored by the Centre.
Mr. Sulaimon remarked that “It is not surprising that the findings of the PPDC in its 2017 FOI ranking of 166 public institutions based on an assessment of the levels of public access to procurement related records and information, such as information on procurement plans, procurement processes and capital expenditure, which was released on September 28, 2017, also put the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre amongst the worst performing set of institutions.”
MRA therefore called on the Director-General of the Centre, Mr. Jonah Bawa, to redeem the institution’s image by ensuring that it puts in place necessary measures to facilitate compliance with the relevant provisions of the FOI Act.
The FOI Hall of Shame was launched in July 2017 to draw attention to public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act.
For further information, please contact:
Programme Manager, Freedom of Information
Media Rights Agenda, Lagos