MRA Holds Workshop FOI Act for CSOs
LAGOS, Thursday, January 26, 2012: A two-day workshop for representatives of civil society organizations in the northern states of Nigeria on how to use the Freedom of Information Act opens in Kaduna today.
Organized by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom through the British High Commission in Abuja, the workshop will bring together participants from among civil society organizations (CSOs), including community based organizations (CBOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs) and other grassroots organizations in the North East, North West and North Central zones of the country.
The workshop will be declared opened by the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency Giles Lever.
The objectives of the workshop are:
· To build the capacity of civil society organizations, including CSOs, including CBOs, FBOs and other grassroots organizations, to effectively utilize the Freedom of Information Act and train others in their immediate environs to similarly use the Law.
· To encourage and motivate CSOs, including CBOs, FBOs & other grassroots organizations, to make requests for information in areas which will lead to a more enhanced quality of life in society.
· To encourage the workshop participants to mainstream Freedom of Information in their organizations, regardless of the sectors in which they work.
· To train participants to formulate actual requests for information relevant to their sectors and thereby increase their chances of obtaining information from public institutions and private entities that are relevant to the sectors in which they work.
· To equip participants with the knowledge, skills and practical tools to enable them step down such training by carrying out similar basic low-budget training and sensitization activities in their immediate communities.
· To encourage participants to submit requests to any public institutions with any information of interest to them immediately after the workshop and to provide MRA with feedback on the outcome of such effort.
The workshop is the first in a series of sensitization workshops on the Freedom of Information Act planned by Media Rights Agenda to take place in different parts of the country.
A similar workshop is scheduled to take place in Calabar on February 6 and 7, for representatives of similar organizations in the South East and South South zones of Nigeria while another workshop will be held in Lagos on February 10 and 11, for organizations in the South West zone.
Additional workshops will be held in Abuja and Kaduna for journalists from the print and broadcast media on January 30 and 31 and February 14 and 15, respectively.
Media Rights Agenda also plans to hold a workshop for information officers from selected Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to also sensitize them on the implementation of the Act.
According to MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, the workshops are part of a wider project to increase the level of participation in governance by citizens, using the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr. Ojo explained that other aspects of the project include the reprinting of copies of the Freedom of Information Act to make the text of the Law more widely available to the public than is currently the case as well as the production and printing copies of “A Citizen’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act” to assist ordinary citizens to have a better understanding of the provisions of the Law and how to use it.