Representatives of Policy Alert during the unveiling of the 2022 subnational Freedom of Information ranking in Akwa Ibom State.

Abasifreke Effiong

Government Ministries, Department and Agencies in Akwa Ibom state are still reluctant about disclosure of information to the public and do not readily honour Freedom of Information, (FOI), the year 2022 subnational FOI and transparency ranking has revealed.

The 2022 freedom of information compliance and transparency ranking shows that MDAs in Akwa Ibom state do not honour requests for information from her citizens, civil society and the media despite the existence of Freedom of Information request, and the State Fiscal Responsibility Law 2020 which in section 48 (5) mandates the government to grant the public access to information.

An NGO, the Public and Private Development Centre, PPDC, in partnership with the Akwa Ibom State Access to Information Team, comprising civil society and media actors in the state, introduced the FOI compliance ranking in Akwa Ibom state in 2021 to determine the level of compliance to FOI Act by MDAs in the State.

This year’s ranking was carried out by PPDC in partnership with Policy Alert and supported by Luminate.

Akwa Ibom MDAs still refusing to honour Freedom of Information requests Methodology and assessment scheme used for the ranking.

The 2022 FOI compliance ranking unveiled on Wednesday 28th September at a press conference in Uyo to mark the international day for universal access to information indicated that proactive disclosure, responsiveness to FOI request and level of disclosure of information by MDAs in the state was still very low.

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Akwa Ibom MDAs rank very low on FOI compliance, transparency

Out of 147 points, the highest score for disclosure of information was 22 points scored by the ministry of transport and solid minerals. The second highest point was 17. The State Ministry of Information scored 4 points and came 15th position on the ranking table.

FOI requests were sent to 24 MDAs in the State for the 2022 subnational ranking, PPDC said.

The organisation observed that, “many MDAs in the State continue to ignore or outrightly refuse to honour FOI requests. Most public officers are yet to come to terms with the importance of access to information.”

“It appears that the state is just professing transparency and accountability as governance ideals, while refusing to honour requests for information from the citizens, civil society , or the media.”

The organisation called on civil society and media organisations in the state to make effective use of the FOI Act 2011 and also catch in on the right of access to information provided in the Akwa Ibom Fiscal Responsibility Law 2020 to demand transparency and accountability from government.

PPDC urged the state government to be more responsive to Freedom of Information requests and to proactively provide public information on government websites.