MRA Inducts Onu’s Science and Tech Ministry into‘FOI Hall of Shame’
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu has been inducted into the ‘FOI Hall of Shame’ by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for alleged blatant disregard of the Act Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 in the past seven years, reports ITRealms.
Ms Morisola Alaba, MRA’s Legal Officer, said that “In the last seven years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the ministry has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Law, thus violating section 29 of the Act and the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”
She noted that the ministry whose vision is to make Nigeria one of the acknowledged leaders of the scientifically and technologically developed nations of the world deliberately disregards the FOI Act which is aimed at enabling citizens to be aware of the operations, businesses and activities of Government, including all public institutions, in order to make informed decisions in all aspects of their lives.
Although the ministry has published on its website a description of the organisation and its responsibilities, including details of the programmes and functions of each of its departments, it nonetheless failed to publish a list of description of documents containing final opinion including concurring and dissenting opinions.
Ms Alaba added that “there is also no indication whatsoever that the ministry has provided the appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by the ministry or trained them to effectively implement the Act, as it is required to do by section 13 of the FOI Act.”
She further said that the ministry, whose mandate includes acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation contribution to increase agricultural and livestock production; creation of technology infrastructure and knowledge base to facilitate its wide application for development; and application of natural medicine resources and technologies for health sector development, among others has failed to acknowledge the FOI Act in order to make information relevant to its mandate readily available.
According to Ms Alaba, the ministry failed to proactively disclose list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant, licenses or agreement, reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent contractors for institution; and materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organisation, as required by section 2 (3) (e) of the FOI Act.
She stated that although the ministry has names and profiles of its management staff on its website, it failed to disclose the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees of the institution, as required by section 2 (3) (d) (vi) of the Act.
Ms Alaba said the ministry also failed to disclose information on documents containing final planning policies, recommendations, and decisions as well as information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution in violation of section 2 (3) (iii) and (v) of the FOI Act.
She added: “Although we cannot determine at this point the scale of non-responsiveness by the Ministry to requests for information from members of the public owing to its failure to submit annual reports for 2011 to 2017, which would have provided that vital information, we know for a fact that it has failed to respond to FOI requests from civil society organizations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Paradigm Initiative. Instead of providing the information in accordance with the Law, it has opted to waste public funds defending the refusal to disclose the requested information in court.”
Ms Alaba said there was no indication on the ministry’s website or anywhere else that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, and accused the ministry of also violating Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the ministry.
Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.
Schneider Electric Reinforces Support to Partners in Achieving Energy Management Goals
Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital energy management solutions, recently held an event for its valued partners with a focus on industry trends, challenges, and the future of energy management.
The event provided a platform for attendees to network and share critical insights, including the latest market trends and Schneider Electric’s newest offerings in energy management.
Present at the event were, Country President, Schneider Electric, West Africa, Ajibola Akindele, official distributors, retail partners, panel builders, Marketing and Communications Manager, Schneider Electric, Omobolanle Omotayo, Channel Sales Director, Schneider Electric, Nurudeen Oyedeji, amongst others.
The event featured engaging discussions and presentations that explored the current and future trends in the industry, as well as how Schneider Electric can better serve its customers’ evolving needs while showcasing the company’s latest products and services.
Expressing his gratitude to their partners, Country President, Schneider Electric, West Africa, Ajibola Akindele said, “Our partners’ satisfaction is crucial to enhancing our individual efforts, and we are thankful for their unwavering support. Their partnership has been instrumental in our success as an organization, and we remain committed to working collaboratively to achieve our shared goals.”
Speaking further on working collaboratively with partners, Ajibola Akindele mentioned Schneider Electric has developed a program targeted at empowering electricians for the safe installation of energy management solutions,
“At the core of Schneider Electric is passion for people. To guarantee the safety of our customers, an initiative has been created to equip electricians with products and technical skills for safe installation.”
Channel Sales Director, Nurudeen Oyedeji highlighted a few of Schneider Electric’s latest offerings in energy management, “We have Electrical Vehicle (EV) Chargers, flexible design switches, circuit breakers, switchboards, Building Management Systems (BMS) and other energy solutions designed for residential and small businesses, buildings, data centres, and industries. We look forward to a continuous collaboration with our partners to drive innovation and create sustainable energy solutions for the future.”
Schneider Electric drives digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software, and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure, and industries.
NITDA, SMEDAN to Institutionalize SMEs in Nigeria
The National Information Technology Development Agency NITDA and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have agreed to institutionalise the activities of the Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs) in the country.
The proposed agreement was revealed at a meeting between Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, the NITDA’s Director General, and his SMEDAN counterpart, Mr Olawale Fasanya. The meeting was held at NITDA’s Corporate Headquarters, Abuja,
According to NITDA’s boss, institutionalising the SME would serve as a catalyst for creating wealth and prosperity, adding that, “We have between 60-90 per cent of our businesses under SMEs, but operating informally, how can we formalise them so that even the government can benefit by collecting taxes and have a structure in place to capture the GDP correctly, he queried.
Inuwa noted that most of the Startups the Agency deals with are SMEs who are also trying to solve a real life problem.
He said, “We see Startups as our babies, while for you anybody trying to start any business you see them as your babies. We have startups solving problems in agric, commerce, education, and logistics and so on.”
Inuwa added that the world is moving to smart manufacturing whereby you can design anything on your system and print it using 3D printer.
“We have Digital Fabrication Lab in our Center (the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics NCAIR) where you can design all these and manufacture them or prototype them and do mass production.”
He also announced that plans are underway to have facilities everywhere as the goal is for every Nigerian to have access to these kinds of facilities.
Enumerating some of the initiatives which the Agency is undertaking and the collaboration is into with the big techs to include NITDA Learning Management System Online Academy, the Director General assured SMEDAN that their SMEs will be on boarded into some of the programs.
“We are also looking beyond SMEs today; we have what we call IDEs (Innovation Driven Enterprises) which is a process where you start with a mindset that you are solving the immediate problem but the bigger picture is to go global and Information Technology is making it possible for you to reach anywhere in the world.”
Citing the recent research conducted by the Lagos Business School on the booming nature of the Gig economy, the Director General said that as at last year, there were over 2 million Nigerians earning a living through the Gig economy who receive training and work from anywhere using IT, like those doing Bolt and online digital marketing.
Describing the roles of the two agencies as common, the Inuwa said they both exist to develop and help Nigerians create wealth through the use of IT.
“IT is pervasive, anywhere you think of today you need IT to enable it. Our lives revolve around technology,” he noted.
“This kind of collaboration is what can help us have structure to even protect the Gig economy as well”, he concluded.
Earlier in his remark, Mr Fasanya said that they were in the Agency to intimate NITDA of their readiness to further enter into other collaborative areas that will be more impactful to the society.
The SMEDAN’s Director General revealed that they have identified about 70 youths in all the 36 states of the Federation who were trained on different skills, particularly on how to market their products digitally.
While disclosing that his organisation wants their SMEs to take advantage of the digital space, Mr Fasanya said that would give them required knowledge on e-learning platforms, e- marketing and so on.
Airtel Employees Give Students a Reason to Imagine, Provides Access to Digital Education
Employees of Airtel Nigeria, under its CSR initiative, Employee Volunteer Scheme Initiative, paid a visit to Kuramo College, a government secondary school in Lagos, and donated modern routers, each equipped with 100GB of data and a two-month roll-over access fee.
The connection devices were donated by Airtel’s Information and Technology team, with a mission to empower students with enhanced digital connectivity.
Speaking during the event, Director, Information and Technology, Seun Solanke, said, “Airtel aims to empower young minds by equipping them with the connectivity to imagine and unlock a world of knowledge and opportunities.
“For Airtel, it is no longer about being a smartphone network but giving people a reason to imagine, so that people can explore the possibilities powered by technology and connectivity. The world is evolving, young Nigerians now have access to unlimited possibilities and can now create their own job titles and descriptions, which is why we now have YouTubers, social media Influencers and the likes.”
He concluded by encouraging the students to maximize the provision of connectivity to back up their future imaginations with the right information and resources, in other to ensure a bright future.
The activities under the Airtel Nigeria Employee Volunteer Scheme, said Airtel management, aligns with the company’s commitment to bridging the digital divide in the country and enabling students to leverage the power of the internet, as the distribution of routers with data plans will ensure that students have uninterrupted access to educational resources, research materials, and online learning platforms, regardless of their socio-economic background.
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