Does the Freedom of Information Act apply in Nigeria, particularly with respect to gender budgeting and accountability? - Event Report

Date
Saturday 6 March 2021
Location
Enugu State, Nigeria (Europe, Middle East & Africa)
Organisers
Equity Watch Initiative

On Saturday 6th March 2021, the eleventh Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising hundreds of events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme.

This event received an Open Knowledge Foundation mini-grant thanks to support from Microsoft.

Photo of Does the Freedom of Information Act apply in Nigeria, particularly with respect to gender budgeting and accountability?

How did your event celebrate open data?

Our Open Data Day event centered on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which is a law in Nigeria that stipulates that the people have the right to access classified information from the government provided it does not endanger security of lives and properties. 

Our focus was specifically on gender budgeting with respect to the issues of accountability and transparency. We engaged 15 civil society organisations including the Executive Director of Widows Lifeline, the wife of the first president of Nigeria (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe) Prof. Uche Azikiwe and five members of our own organisation in the event. 

Though this law which is rooted in other international laws, you find that implementation remains a problem. The event was marked by a presentation from the ED of Equity Watch Initiative, Dr. Chiemezie Atama, which was followed by an interactive session, then questions and answers. The presentation focused on what FOIA is all about, states where it has been domesticated, FOIA as an advocacy tool, how it relates to the issues of accountability and transparency, gender budgeting and implementation, monitoring and follow up mechanisms as well as the the role of CSOs. It was a clarion call for all CSOs in Nsukka to follow up and monitor gender budgeting and implementation to ensure accountability and good governance.

Lessons learned from your event

At the end of the programme, the participants were asked to state what they learnt and this is a summary of their responses:

  1. Clear explanations of what FOIA is all about.
  2. How we can leverage FOIA to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.
  3. The fact that only few states have domesticated FOIA in Nigeria despite its potential for transformational governance.
  4. The role of CSOs in ensuring transparency and good governance.
  5. Engagement process to ensure good governance.
  6. The need to continue to advocate for open data.
  7. Gender budgeting and the need for follow up to ensure proper implementation.

Why do you love Open Data Day?

Because it is about creating awareness on the importance of making data open to the public. This for me encourages accountability and transparency.

The Open Data Day 2021 mini-grants scheme is kindly supported by:
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