FOI: Tax Payers Right to Be In The Know

Permanent Secretary, Defence The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, M. S. Istifanus has said that the Freedom of Information Act is a window to Nigerians especially Tax Payers to know how their monies are expended in governance. The Permanent Secretary Musa Istifanus stated this while declaring open a specialized training for the staff of the Ministry of Defence on the tenets of the Freedom of Information Act, FOI. He stated further that the Act is to guarantee openness, transparency and probity in Government businesses across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government as well as n the activities of States and Local Government Areas. Making reference to the Act, the Permanent Secretary noted that “the Act is to make public records and Information more freely available and in consistent to public interest, privacy, safety and without adverse consequences.

M. S. Istifanus decried the poor application of the Act by both the people and the Government, stressing that, government agencies should utilize official domains to abreast Nigerians of their activities while the public should be encouraged to ask questions not only on finances but also on social services, in line with the provision of the Act. The Permanent Secretary lamented the poor performance of the operators of FOI Act in easing public access to information on government businesses including budgetary spending, projects implementation and social services rendered to Nigerians. He emphasized the need for the government at all levels to carry along Nigerians especially Tax Payers whose monies are used by the government in service delivery.

The Director, Planning, Research and Statistics Mr. Benson Odaman disclosed that every staff that is relevant to the Information Act will be trained and empowered on how to disseminate information taking cognizance of the oath of secrecy, right to privacy as well as security and safety implications to the nation. Mr. Odaman said the Freedom of Information Act, which was signed into Law in 2011, is being domesticated in the Ministry of Defence in line with the Present Administration’s quest for transparency and probity.