OrderPaperToday – The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has inducted the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, noting the Board’s refusal to be transparent and its penchant for operating with “cult-like secrecy.”
In a statement released on Monday, the MRA’s Legal Officer, Chioma Nwaodike, said that there are now more questions about the board’s continued relevance in view of its failure to achieve the objectives for which it was established.
“More than 40 years after the Board was established, it is clear that it has failed to deliver on the objectives that motivated its establishment, given that the pricing of petroleum products has never been uniform across the country all through these years. Perhaps, some transparency about the activities of the Board may have enabled us to understand what exactly it does and whether there is any reason for its continued existence in light of its apparent spectacular failure.
“Having been charged with the responsibility for reimbursing petroleum marketing companies for losses suffered by them as a result of their sale of petroleum products at uniform prices throughout the country, for which it is expending public funds in this regard, the Board owes Nigerians a duty to keep them informed about every aspect of its operations including what it gets annually from the national budget, how much it is expending for various purposes, who the beneficiaries of its reimbursement scheme are, how the reimbursements are calculated, among other things. Unfortunately, it is not doing this,” she said.
Nwaodike added that by blatantly disregarding its statutory obligations under the FOI Act, the Board makes nonsense of its mission statement where it says it aims to be a “transparent organization” and an “accountable and efficient parastatal” as well as listing ‘integrity’ as one of its core values.
She observed that the board has consistently failed to publish and disseminate 16 classes of information as well as review and update them whenever changes occur, in compliance with the FOI Act.
Nwaodike further alleged that the Board has refused to submit any report on its implementation of the Act for seven consecutive years to the Attorney-General of the Federation and has also not provided appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and for the effective implementation of the Act.