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Chairman NERC Backs Freedom of Information Law, Says It Will Improve Quality of Governance

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Reform of Government, Honorable Mathew Omegara, has described the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as the 'Champion of the Freedom of Information law in Nigeria'.

He made the remarks at the Committee's interactive session with Chief Executives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government on Tuesday, July 14, 2013. He praised NERC for being the first agency in Nigeria to publicly begin implementation of the FOI law and the first to proactively make the 16 mandatory disclosures as required by the FOI law. He told the Chief Executives that it was NERC's proactive implementation of the FOI law that goaded the committee to enhance oversight of the implementation of the freedom of information law. He enjoined other agencies to seek advice from NERC on how they can comply with the requirements of the FOI law.

The Committee Chairman further noted that it was in recognition of the leadership role of NERC in providing free access to information on energy regulation that the Committee has selected Dr. Sam Amadi, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NERC as a resource person and ambassador of FOI to help enlighten and build the capacity of the MDAs to understand how to use the FOI to engender accountability and accountability in public governance. Amadi said that “the whole idea is to create an open government because Freedom of Information greatly improves the quality of governance”.

In his presentation, the Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, listed the various actions undertaken by the Commission in pursuit of the prescriptions of the FOI law, including being the first and only agency in Nigeria to publicly declare a code of conduct that commits every staff of the commission to the highest standards of disclosure and transparency. He further disclosed that NERC has designated a desk officer for the FOI and has trained relevant officers locally and international in other to ensure responsiveness to FOI request. Dr. Amadi assured the Committee that NERC as a regulator would mandate complete disclosures for all licensees in the electricity industry in other to ensure effective energy audit and ensure quality services to the consumers.

On the challenges he has encountered in championing freedom of information at NERC, Dr. Amadi noted that the most difficult challenge is conceptual hurdle because of the erroneous belief that disclosure would do to an organization. He argued contrary that, an open government is more stable and efficient as feedbacks from citizens and customer improve organizational processes and outcomes. He also advised Chief Executives to realize that without transformation in the corporate culture, it would be difficult for their agencies to make the paradigm shift required to fully embrace the FOI law. He promised that he would continue to assist the House Committee on Reform of Government to make FOI a living experience in Nigeria.

Maryam Yaya Abubakar - Assistant General Manager, Media