Monday, 31 March 2014

Freedom of Information Act (FoI Act) can curb corruption in Nigeria...

Dr. Joe Abah, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms
Dr. Joe Abah, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, says the Freedom of Information Act (FoI Act) will eliminate corruption from the Civil Service.

Abah told the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja that enforcing the FoI Act was the most important way to minimise corruption in the public service.

He spoke after the inauguration ceremony of the bureau’s Anti-Corruption Committee.

The director-general said there was the need to make public service more transparent to effectively curb corruption.

“This can only be achieved if the provisions of the FoI Act are applied,’’ he said.

Abah said the law, which came into force on May 28, 2011, was “very important to Nigeria as it pushed Nigeria into the league of more than 90 countries which have ratified similar legislation.”

He said the Act aims to provide access to public records and information that is consistent with public interest and the protection of personal privacy.

“It also protects public servants from any adverse consequences of disclosing certain types of official information without authorisation.

“This will, hopefully, start to erode the culture of secrecy under which the public service was run during the military era and which is a convenient cover for corruption.’’

Abah said, in compliance with the FoI Act, BPSR had engaged in proactive disclosure and information about the bureau is readily available on its website,

“A more transparent public service will be a less corrupt one and a less corrupt public service will be a better-performing public service.”

He said Nigeria must win the fight against corruption, saying “government’s initiative to inaugurate the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit in all MDAs is systematic and will help to curb corruption’’.

Abah said the country’s second most powerful legislation is the FoI Act, and is superseded only by the Nigerian Constitution.

“If we are able to use that Freedom of Information Act effectively, then we will begin to address and tackle corruption.

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