Monday, 24 August 2015

Freedom of Information Act: Problems, Reforms, Challenges and Achievements highlighted.

Problem: Poor and unfavourable image of Nigeria and its citizens in the international community coupled with weak understanding by Nigerians of government policies and programmes that reduced cultural cohesion within the country.

Reform Actions:
Preparation and implementation of a strategy for public information management working in close collaboration with sector partners to improve public awareness and understanding of government programmes
- Promotion of the Freedom of Information Act of 2011 to ensure democratic exchange of information
- Establishment of a regulatory framework for media and allied industry for promoting national consciousness, building a more positive image of Nigeria and for encouraging investments
- Preservation of Nigeria’s archival heritage and digitisation of archival registry to make Nigeria’s historical information more accessible

Main Achievements:
With the introduction of new radio and television programmes and the establishment of online broadcasting platforms, there was an increase in listenership worldwide. The focus of the new broadcasts on activities of government and its representatives and renewed effort through community TV and radio stations to reach the grassroots ensured improved awareness of government activities.

Collaborations with agencies of government of the USA and Germany for the promotion of the FOI Act helped to reposition Nigeria as a trusted partner in international relations and signposted the country’s willingness to making information accessible in furtherance of democratic governance.

Access to archived information has been increased as a result of the archival registry digitisation project and the e-library projects which in addition to facilitating virtual access to resource materials promotes research into Nigeria’s heritage and history.

Significantly, the reforms resulted in an increased broadcast of local content thus supporting development of talent, especially among young people and the creation of jobs and new enterprises. The entertainment sector in Nigeria has grown almost as a direct result of the local content policy enforced by the National Broadcasting Commission and support initiatives of the Nigeria Film Corporation, which supports local film festivals

Key Challenges:
Challenges of the Ministry for coordinating the sector include that of finance. Given its operational structure meeting overhead costs and other operational expenses remains daunting. 

Reference:  Public Service Reforms in Nigeria (1999-2014) - A Comprehensive Review

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