Utilization and Enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act and its Impact on Good Governance in Nigeria: Investigation of the their intersection From Dr. Bisi Olawunmi

With the promulgation of the Freedom of Information Act in 2011 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the hope for the enhancement of good governance and transparency in Nigeria was raised. It was expected that the law will stimulate citizens, and particularly the journalists, to put government officers on their toes in the performance of the fundamental objectives of the state.
But nine years down the lane, cases of secrecy in government are still prevalent. Readily available and sufficient information to enhance political participation and efficacy is still lacking, and which, invariably, has been attributable to the prevalent and manifestation of bad governance in Nigeria. The question to ask is: has the freedom of information been redundant and not utilized? This study attempted to answer this question by investigating the level of utilization of the Act since its promulgation by the citizens and particularly by the journalists. It also examined the rate at which it has been enforced by exploring the factors underlining its implementation and enforcement. Importantly, the study also investigated the extent to which the Act has been contributing to good governance in relation to transparency, openness, fairness and justice. The study found out that the culture of secrecy is still prevalent in government institutions and the journalists and citizens alike have little or no motivations to invoke the law. To this end, good governance through openness, justice, transparency and fairness is still very elusive to Nigeria. It recommended that the culture of secrecy should be eliminated from the operations of government institutions and government should assist in the enforcement of the law by putting in place strong and legal framework that will motivate government institutions in enforcing the law.

Observation: I am of the view that many things are lumped together in this abstract, making it not being narrowly focused. I believe what you want to find out is to what extent has the FOI Act been exploited by journalists in particular and the citizens in general, as an enabler of open government . The study is basically a critical review of eight years of the FOI Act., 2011.
I don’t see how logical it is to recommend that ‘’government should assist in the enforcement of the law by putting in place strong and legal framework that will motivate government institutions in enforcing the law’’. Govt. institutions are NOT to enforce the law, since the law did not give them regulatory powers, but they are to adhere to its provisions by making information about their operations available, on demand. And there are provisions in the law which offer redress to any aggrieved party not satisfied with the response of any government institution to its information request. My opinion is that if the abstract is reviewed to have the thrust of the research along the lines noted above, it should be a good study.
Dr. Bisi Olawunmi writes from Adeleke University, Ede and can be reached on 0803 364 7571.


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