Skip to main content

FOI Act: Four States Asked To Release Primary Education Spending Documents

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has invoked the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act to give the governments Enugu, Kaduna, Oyo and Rivers states 14 days ultimatum to release information and documents on spending on primary education in their respective states.

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has invoked the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act to give the governments Enugu, Kaduna, Oyo and Rivers states 14 days ultimatum to release information and documents on spending on primary education in their respective states.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

In separate letters dated 8 June 2011 and sent to governors Sullivan Chime, Patrick Yakowa, Abiola Ajimobi, and Rotimi Amaechi, the group is requesting the governors to “urgently provide detailed and up-to-date information and documents on the spending relating to primary education in your state. The information should cover the period from 2005 when the first budget was released for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) program in your state.”

The letter signed by the group’s Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni reads in part: “The FOI Act was enacted pursuant to exercise of Constitutional powers. Similarly, national interest, and the interest of human rights, democracy, rule of law, transparency and accountability is sufficiently dominant in the Act. Therefore, your government is precluded from exercising any discretion that would undermine, restrict or obstruct the direct application of the Act in your state.”

“Having your government to exercise discretion whether or not you wish to allow the application of the Act in your state would be an inversion of the principles of government. It would be like having the brain subservient to limbs of the body. Also it would subject the residents of your state to a less democratic, transparent and accountable form of government; and this will not correspond to the aim and purpose of the 1999 Constitution and Nigeria’s international obligations and commitments,” the group further argued.
The group also said that, “We believe that it is in the public interest that the information requested is provided. The information requested is not covered by the exemptions under the Act.”

“We note that since 2005 over N119 billion have so far been granted to the 36 states of the federation, including your state. However, despite huge sums of money that have been budgeted and allegedly spent to improve the school infrastructure and environment, primary schools across the country still lack basic facilities”, the group also stated. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });

The group argued that, “education at the basic level is one of the most important targets of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs). We believe that without transparency and accountability on the spending of education funds, the goal will remain unrealized for millions of Nigerian children.”

The group is therefore seeking information on:

1.    The total amount of the Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) education intervention funds allocated to states that have been accessed by your state through the State Universal Basic Education Commission, SUBEC. If your state has accessed any intervention funds, information on the exact projects and the details of the spending on such projects since 2005 should be provided. And if your state has not accessed the intervention funds, information on why this is the case should be provided.

2.    The total amount of the counterpart fund your state has provided since 2005 when the first budget was released for the UBEC program in your state, and detailed and up-to-date information on the spending of such fund

3.    Details of projects on which the intervention and the counterpart funds were spent. For example, information should be provided on the breakdown of the amount spent on: infrastructural development, including classrooms’ construction and renovation; purchase; renovation or rehabilitation of furniture; acquisition of laboratory/workshop equipment; borehole construction as well as construction of toilets; school feeding programme, caring for the physically/mentally challenged children; and training and re-training of teachers.
The group said that if the governors “fail or refuse to provide the requested information within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel your government to comply with our request.”

The FOI Act among others aims to make public records and information more freely available, and makes provisions for public access to public records and information. Section of the Act grants the right to access or request information, which is in the custody of any public official, agency or institution.”

Under Section 1 (2) “an applicant under this Act needs not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for.”

Signed
Adetokunbo Mumuni
Executive Director
 
Sample Letter To Kaduna State Government:
His Excellency Governor Patrick Yakowa
Governor of Kaduna State
Government House
Kaduna
                                        8 June 2011

Your Excellency:

Re: Request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act to provide up-to-date information on spending relating to primary education in your state
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) is writing to request you to urgently provide detailed and up-to-date information on the spending relating to primary education in your state. The information should cover the period from 2005 when the first budget was released for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) program in your state.
SERAP is a human rights non-governmental organization whose mandate include to promote and seek respect for socio-economic rights of Nigerians, and to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights.
SERAP is bringing this request pursuant to the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act, which is directly applicable to your state. The Act among others aims to make public records and information more freely available, and makes provisions for public access to public records and information. Section of the Act grants the right to access or request information, which is in the custody of any public official, agency or institution.
Under Section 1 (2) “an applicant under this Act needs not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for.”
We believe that it is in the public interest that the information requested is provided. The information requested is not covered by the exemptions under the Act.
 


We note that since 2005 over N119 billion have so far been granted to the 36 states of the federation, including your state. Despite huge sums of money that have been budgeted and allegedly spent to improve the school infrastructure and environment, primary schools across the country still lack basic facilities. 
We note that education at the basic level is one of the most important targets of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs). We believe that without transparency and accountability on the spending of education funds, the goal will remain unrealized for millions of Nigerian children.
The FOI Act was enacted pursuant to exercise of Constitutional powers. Similarly, national interest, and the interest of human rights, democracy, rule of law, transparency and accountability is sufficiently dominant in the Act. Therefore, your government is precluded from exercising any discretion that would undermine, restrict or obstruct the direct application of the Act in your state.
Having your government to exercise discretion whether or not you wish to allow the application of the Act in your state would be an inversion of the principles of government. It would be like having the brain subservient to limbs of the body. Also it would subject the residents of your state to a less democratic, transparent and accountable form of government; and this will not correspond to the aim and purpose of the 1999 Constitution.
SERAP is therefore requesting you to provide detailed and up-to-date information on:
1.    The total amount of the Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) education intervention funds allocated to states that have been accessed by your state through the State Universal Basic Education Commission, SUBEC. If your state has accessed any intervention funds, information on the exact projects and the details of the spending on such projects since 2005 should be provided. And if your state has not accessed the intervention funds, information on why this is the case should be provided.

2.    The total amount of the counterpart fund your state has provided since 2005 when the first budget was released for the UBEC program in your state, and detailed and up-to-date information on the spending of such fund

3.    Details of projects on which the intervention and the counterpart funds were spent. For example, information should be provided on the breakdown of the amount spent on: infrastructural development, including classrooms’ construction and renovation; purchase; renovation or rehabilitation of furniture; acquisition of laboratory/workshop equipment; borehole construction as well as construction of toilets; school feeding programme, caring for the physically/mentally challenged children; and training and re-training of teachers.

TAKE NOTICE that if your government fails or refuses to provide the requested information within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel your government to comply with our request. 


Yours sincerely,


Adetokunbo Mumuni                   
Executive Director