Under the USAID Strengthening, Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, a group of CSOs led by Garfield recorded a great milestone in the domestication of the Freedom of Information (FOI) ACT in Adamawa State in Nigeria. Through advocacy and press conferences in Adamawa, Edo, and Kaduna states, the group started digital campaigns using hashtags: #KeepNigeriaOpen and #KeepitOpen to broaden awareness of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill (DRFB).

The FOI Act, originally passed and assented to in May 2011, gives a person, group, association, or organization the right to access information from any Government Agencies, Parastatals, Federal Civil Service, Private and Public sector organizations providing public services. However, without state-level domestication, these rights had yet to trickle down to the constituents. State domestication will help expand the civic space by ensuring that people have access to information to engender development, are safeguarded from unlawful digital shutdowns, and are guaranteed freedom of expression and assembly online.

Fueling the domestication efforts, these CSOs held consultative dialogue meetings in Adamawa State with government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), CSOs, and the media, including the clerk of the Adamawa State House of Assembly (SHoA). These advocacy efforts have increased the political will of the SHoA and led to the passage of the bill through the first reading which implies that the law has been introduced to the legislature.

Next, the group secured another visit with the clerk to fast-track the process through the Second reading and public hearing, and eventually final passage of the act.

Once the bill is passed,

  • Adamawa state citizens will have open access to information on key issues such as public procurement health and social development projects, public budgeting, asset declaration of serving public officials, etc
  • Journalists and the media will be able to conduct factual reporting which will lead to a reduction in false reporting, misinformation, and disinformation
  • CSOs and communities will have knowledge of government policies and projects that affect their socio-economic livelihood.
  • Access to relevant information of public interest to enable citizens to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of their service delivery in critical areas such as health care services, education, development plans/projects, poverty alleviation programs, etc.
  • The SCALE project is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded five-year project (2021-2025) designed to strengthen the financial, management, and advocacy capacity of CSOs in Nigeria to create a more accountable, transparent, peaceful, and democratic Nigeria with more effective and efficient public service delivery.