Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today announced the induction of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, saying the institution has consistently failed to comply with its duties and obligations under the FOI Act, 2011.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Legal Officer, Ms Chioma Nwaodike, said: “The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has violated virtually all its obligations under the FOI Act since the Law was enacted seven years ago. We are at a loss as to how the Ministry hopes to perform its function of ensuring “compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in the Oil and Gas sector” when it is itself not complying with a major law of the land. It cannot possibly have the moral authority to insist on compliance by other entities with laws when it is not complying with other laws that apply to it.”
According to her, the Ministry clearly recognizes that its principal mandate is “to transform the oil and gas industry for the increased benefit of Nigeria and its people through effective implementation of policies on hydrocarbon exploration, exploitation, production, distribution and utilization in accordance with international standards.”
She said: “It is ironic that although the Ministry appreciates that its main function is to ensure that Nigeria’s major revenue earner is managed for the benefit of the country and its people, it does not appear to recognize the need for it to be transparent and accountable to the people of Nigeria and is clearly unwilling to make the effort. How it hopes to fulfill its mandate without being transparent or accountable to the citizens of Nigeria whose interests it is established to protect remains a mystery to us.”
Justifying the induction of the Ministry into the FOI Hall of Shame, Ms Nwaodike noted that it has failed to comply with section 2 of the FOI Act, which requires it to proactively publish certain types of information even without anyone making any request for such information and to update such information regularly.