The National Youth Service Corps’ Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Vanguard, Kwara State Chapter, earlier today trooped en-masse to the streets of Ilorin, the state capital, to conduct its quarterly freedom of information act sensitization.
The sensitization spanned from the fact that most Nigerians today are not aware that such an act existed and that in the ever growing democratic climate of Nigeria, they actually had right to information from public institutions, organizations and even private establishments that have direct impact on the members of public.
It would be recalled that the FOI act was passed by the National Assembly on 24th May 2011 and assented by President Goodluck Jonathan on 28th May, 2011.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) supersedes the Official Secrets Act (OSA), originally enacted in 1911, which forbade the unauthorized transmission, obtaining, reproduction, or retention of any classified matter.
The Act applies not only to public institutions but also to private organizations providing public services, performing public functions or utilizing public funds.
The underlying philosophy of Freedom of Information was that public servants are custodians of a public trust on behalf of a population who have a right to know what they do. In particular, the FOIA promises to remove the aura of mystery and exclusion with which public servants cloak the ordinary operations of government and public institutions. It also seeks to change the manner in which public records and information are managed.
The corps members, under the Editorial and Publicity CDS and FOIA Vanguard had the opportunity to hold various conversations with different people from different social classes and works of life in the state capital.
Meanwhile, from observations, it was seen that over 97% of all the individuals, companies, businessmen and women, establishments that were approached, had little or no knowledge of the FOI Act.
However, the corps members were able to sensitized the people of the area and presented them with the first-hand knowledge of the privileged they enjoy as citizens under the Act.
The sensitization was able to set the benchmark for further sensitizations to be held on the FOI Act, owing to the fact that most Nigerians were yet to be versed in the nitty-gritty of this exciting development.