Nigerian Official Urges Doubling of Reply Period

2 August 2013

The head of the Nigerian civil service, Bukar Aji, on July 30 recommended that the 2011 Freedom of Information Act be amended to allow 14 days instead of seven to respond to requests.

Aji  spoke at National Conference on the Freedom of Information Act, organized by the Right to Know Initiative, in Abuja. He said the lack of digital records made retrieval within seven days “practically difficult.”

“He stressed the need for proper record keeping, easy accessibility of formats and eventual digitalisation of public records to ensure the publication of information on Website of various MDAs,” according to a Premium Times account. “Mr. Aji also advocated review of the Official Secret Act (OSA) to conform to the FoI Act and ensure that classification of information did not endanger disclosure of information.”

Aji  “identified the lack of desire by public officers to shift from a culture of secrecy to that of transparency as a major factor militating against the implementation of the Act,” the Times said, and he described efforts to encourage compliance.

The chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, “said that the realisation of the Act required time, planning, skill and determination and called for collective efforts from all Nigerians,” the paper reported.

In another article, Attorney General ofand Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke was quoted as calling for government agencies to appoint information officers.

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