Assessing Public awareness and use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in Port Harcourt City, Nigeria


The enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in Nigeria in 2011 elicited wide acceptance not only among civil society organisations but also members of the public who agitated for the passage of the FOI bill while it underwent legislative process. Such agitations were rife since it was thought that the legislation would guarantee Nigerian citizens unbridled access to official records as well as participation in the governance of the country. This study investigated the extent of awareness and use of the FOI Act by Port Harcourt residents. The study, among others, addressed the following research questions: To what extent are Port Harcourt residents aware of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act? What is the extent of use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by Port Harcourt residents? The investigation adopted survey research design to study a population of 199, 583 from which a sample size of 383 respondents was drawn. Findings of the study showed a substantial high awareness but low application of the FOI Act among Port Harcourt residents. The study also found out that the agencies which spearheaded the passage of the FOI bill into an Act have not done much to sensitise citizens of Nigeria on the usefulness of the Act. The study recommended, among other things, that civil society organisations should initiate nationwide public enlightenment programmes to sensitise Nigerians on the contents and value of the FOI Act.

Keywords: freedom of information; Nigeria’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act; Port Harcourt residents; Awareness of the FOI Act; Use of the FOI Act

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 13-23 (Download PDF)

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