The Freedom of Information Act signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan is now 10 years in effect.
The FOIA was passed by the National Assembly on May 24, 2011; Jonathan assented on May 28, 2011.
The Act supersedes the Official Secrets Act (OSA), originally enacted in 1911, which forbade the unauthorised transmission or obtaining of any classified matter.
It gives a person or association the right to access information from government agencies, Federal Civil Service, private and public sector organisations providing public services.
In a statement, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) said Nigerians now know more about governance and official activities because of the Act.
The body, however, urged better implementation to achieve the ultimate objectives of making the government transparent, accountable and responsive to citizens.
MRA disclosed that its study showed that Act had yielded a treasure-trove of information for citizens, civil society organizations, journalists and media organizations, among others.
Project Director, Segun Fatuase regretted that the Federal Government had neither bark nor bite as there has been no concerted effort to ensure full compliance.
“There is an urgent need for those charged with oversight functions with regards to the FOI Act to do more to ensure its effective implementation.
“The Federal Government itself, if it is serious about combating corruption, must demonstrate greater commitment to this piece of legislation designed to enthrone a transparent and accountable governance, thereby impede corrupt practices.”
Fatuase told the Attorney-General of the Federation and the National Assembly to live up to their statutory responsibilities to improve the level of compliance.
He cited the latest report of the AGF which found that only 73 public institutions submitted reports in 2020, out of over 500 public institutions to which the FOI Act applies at the Federal level.
Fatuase further decried the lack of responsiveness by government establishments to requests for information and their refusal to publish the categories of information that they are required to proactively disclose under the Act.
He also condemned the low number of public institutions that have designated FOI Desk Officers and the slow adjudication and resolution of cases arising under the Act by courts across the country.