The Media Rights Agenda (MRA), has inducted the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, citing the violation of various provisions of the FOI Act, 2011 by the Bureau, including its failure to submit any annual report of its implementation of the Act to the Attorney-General of the Federation over the last six years.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Programme Officer, Mr. John Gbadamosi, said although the Bureau proactively published on its website a description of the organization and its responsibilities, including details of the programmes and functions of each of its departments, it nonetheless failed to publish 15 other classes of information that it is required to proactive disclose by section 2(3) (b-f) of the FOI Act.
According to Mr. Gbadamosi, “there is also no indication whatsoever that the Bureau has provided the appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by the Bureau or trained them to effectively implement the Act, as it is required to do by section 13 of the FOI Act”.
Established by Section 12 of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act of 1999, the BPE is charged with the overall responsibility of implementing the policy on privatization and commercialization.
The BPE says its mission is to be the key driver of the Government’s economic reform programme; to be the resource centre for capacity building and sustenance of reforms through: promoting a competitive economy and enfranchising Nigerians; enthronement of effective corporate governance and financial discipline in the public and private sectors; as well as institutionalising social accountability and efficient deployment of public resources.
Mr. Gbadamosi said the Bureau has consistently failed to proactively disclose information relating to its receipt or expenditure of public or other funds, as required by section 2 (3) (d) (v) of the Act.
He noted that BPE also failed to disclose other categories of records under its control in sufficient detail to facilitate the exercise of the right to information under the Act as well as the manuals used by its employees in administering or carrying out any of its programmes or activities in accordance with section 2(3) (b) of the FOI Act.
MRA also cited the failure of the Bureau to publish on its website or any other public platform the title and address of the appropriate officer to whom applications for information under the FOI Act should be made, as required by Section 2(3) (f) of the Act.
Mr. Gbadamosi said: “one of the functions of the Bureau, as stated by section 13(i) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, is to ensure the success of the privatisation exercise taking into account the need for balance and meaningful participation by Nigerians and foreigners in accordance with relevant laws of Nigeria. Yet, the Bureau has repeatedly disregarded the FOI Act which is one of the laws that enables citizen participation in governance”.
He also noted that there is little or no information available on its handling of FOI requests, making it is difficult to determine the extent of the Bureau’s responsiveness to requests for information made to it by members of the public under the FOI Act.
Launched by MRA on July 3, 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.