PAACA TRAINS NRETLAC ON THE USE OF FOI AND OTHER SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY TOOLS
Having recognized the imperative role that moral institutions can play in advancing anticorruption in the country, it became relevant to equip them with adequate skills that will enhance their advocacy against corruption among their sphere of influence, including the government.
Hence, with support from ActionAid Nigeria, PAACA is built the capacity of its Network of Religious and Traditional Leaders Against Corruption (NRETLAC) on the use of the freedom of information act and other social accountability tools to demand accountability and question service failure, with hope that this will lead to increased demand for accountability and transparency in government service delivery at the local level by traditional leaders; as well as, increase the number of citizens deploying Freedom of Information Act in stimulating accountability in public institutions.
In his statement of purpose, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Executive Director of PAACA, said the workshop targets traditional and religious leaders because they exert high level of influence in communities and among their congregants.
According to him, “Poverty is consequential to corruption, so what we have done is to identify moral authorities in communities that can help to reorient the people to own the anti-corruption fight and we identified the traditional and religious leaders. The idea is that in every community there is a mosque, church and a traditional ruler; so imagine for instance, a traditional ruler making an FOI request to the local government chairman on a community project’’.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye represented by the Assistant chief investigator of the commission, Mfon Umoh said that societies with strong institutions tend to fare better than societies with strong leaders and encouraged participants to make use of the Freedom of information act in requesting information from ICPC constituency/executive project tracking group in respect to constituency projects sited in their domain.
The Country Director, ActionAid, Ms Ene Obi who was represented by Ms Funmilayo Oyefusi, Director, Organisational Effectiveness urged them to use the skills gathered from the workshop to increase the demand for accountability and transparency at all levels of governance and change the supposed belief that FOI was for media or civil society alone. She also advised them to use the act to engage in the budget process and ensure inclusion of all both at the planning, implementation and disbarment levels and ask questions so as to clean Nigeria off corruption.
While commending PAACA for putting together such explanatory workshop, the village head of Gwarzo community in Kano emirate, Muhammad H. Gwarzo said that the freedom of information Act training has given him the impetus to demand accountability and transparency from public officials within his region.