Home News International Day for Universal Access to Information: Importance of the Day

International Day for Universal Access to Information: Importance of the Day

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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Isiyaku Ahmed

The international Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) was declared by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 17, November, 2015.

The day focuses on the importance of access to information and gives reason to the public to look for, get and give data. It is about the privilege to information in the midst of emergency and on the upsides of having sacred, and strategy that ensure for free to data to spare lives, construct trust and help the detailing of manageable arrangements through and past the Covid-19 emergency.

The theme for this year’s IDUAI is “Access to Information – Saving lives, Building Trust, Building Hope”. It focuses on to the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nigeria has access to information law (the FoI Act), but there is more to be done, especially with regards to the actual implementation of the law and in raising public awareness, as well as government ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) responding to FoI requests.

Some CSOs and Donor Partners have been organizing events to sensitize and build capacity of the public on how to use the FoI and also shed light different sections of the FoI act which gives the right to access Information which also is crucial to holding governments accountable thereby guaranteeing good governance.

The FoI is facing challenges in the form of official secrecy act, the oat of office, application of the law and the issue of ratification.

Nigeria adopted the Open Government Partnership (OGP) on 27th July, 2016 with states like Kaduna and following suit.

Open Government Partnership being a multi-lateral initiative that aims at securing concrete commitments from government to promote transparency, empower citizens’, fight corruption and harness new technology to strengthen governance coincided with state government desire to ensure openness through implementation of transparent policies and programs that will positively impact on the lives of the citizenry.

Kano is the first if not only state that has an OGP executive order first in Nigeria and Africa.

The rationale behind the Kanos’ decision to join the OGP was informed by the need to give citizens right to participate in governance to further promote transparency and accountability, inclusiveness, and enabling environment for effective service delivery.

The Kano OGP State Action Plan has six thematic areas and ten commitments; access to information is one of them.

Hajia Halima Ben Umar is the Civil Society Co-Chair of Kano OGP, she says Kano is committed to providing the necessary support and technical assistance to make this week an impactful and memorable one. “In one of our OGP thematic areas, Access to information is committed to enhance citizens’ access to government held information and records”, she added.

Ben Umar also said: “One of our main objectives is to establish the right of the citizens to information and records in custody of government, provide a clear process for the management of the records and information by government employees and access by citizens to such information and records”.

On his part, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kano State Council, Comrade Abbas Ibrahim said: “Information is power and a significant ingredient for journalists in their reportage to ensure transparency and hold government accountable, saying the Nigerian government has taken steps to correct misinformation, disinformation in the society through the Freedom of Information Act (FoI Act)”.

“Even though the FoI Act is not domesticated in Kano, I am aware of a supreme court judgement that portrays that the act can be logically applied in all states of the federation, he added.

Comrade Abbas prays that Kano State domesticates the FoI Act and have desk officers in MDAs to ensure the fast tracking of its usage by journalists and citizens in the state.

At the time of filling this report, there are no events or activities celebrating this day in Kano.

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