06 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, has reaffirmed its leadership role in transparency and accountability in all ramifications, through the launch a new website which will comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The new website, www.neiti.gov.ng designed by Right to Know (R2K) with the support of MacArthur Foundation is the second FOI compliant website after that of Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPRS) to ensure openness, facilitate public access to information, improve governance, check sharp practices, promoting development and restore the rights and powers of citizens to know the activities of public institutions.
This was made known in a statement signed by NEITI Head of Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji.
Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, noted during the unveiling of the website re-iterated that the second name of NEITI is transparency which implies that the organisation will stop at nothing to ensure that transparency and corrupt practices are uprooted from the extractive industry.
According to him, “The FOI portal on the website is an important tool for checking sharp practices, promoting development and restoring the rights and powers of citizens to know, because transparency is the middle name of NEITI, we have to walk the talk.”
He added that it would provide urgent access and feedback to the public on NEITI’s operations in compliance with the provisions of the FOI Act, urging the public to use the FOI portal and the new website to avail themselves of information and data contained in the NEITI reports and other issues in the extractive sector.
Unveiling the website, the Deputy Country Director of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaide, explained that the website will allow the public to submit online FOI requests and receive real time feedbacks just as he assured that MacArthur Foundation is willing to work with NEITI and other agencies to enthrone transparency and accountability in Nigeria.
“The unveiling of the website provided opportunity for NEITI and R2K, Nigeria to jointly call on all public institutions in Nigeria to commence similar processes that would facilitate easy compliance with the provisions of the FOI Act, and help enshrine a culture of openness, facilitate public access to information and improve governance.”
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of R2K and a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Uche Onyeagucha identified institutional secrecy as major obstacles to Nigeria’s development, saying that open access to information is a major tool for free speech, freedom of association and citizens’ participation in governance, transparency and accountability.
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr. Joe Abah whose Agency was the first to develop an FOI compliant website said that the site will compel NEITI to make its operations open, efficient, accountable and consistent with the on-going public service reforms.
Recall that the FOI Act got the president’s signature on May 28 2011, 11 years after the Bill was first submitted to the 4th National Assembly in 1999. The bill was passed by both chambers in the first quarter of 2007, but was vetoed by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Act among other things guarantees the right of access to information held by public institutions, irrespective of the form in which it is kept and is applicable to private institutions which utilize public funds, perform public functions or provide public services.
It also requires all institutions to proactively disclose basic information about their structure and processes and mandates them to build the capacity of their staff in compliance with the provisions of the Act. It also provides protection for whistle blowers.