Though the adoption of e-Governance on a national scale has been very slow, DAYO OKETOLA writes that some states have been making significant efforts at automating government activities for economic gains.
Electronic government or e-Governance is the utilisation of Information Communications Technology and other web-based technologies to drive effectiveness and efficiency in government and improve service delivery in the public sector. Modern governments across the world are driving governance with ICT and those lagging behind are expected to adopt ICT to transform their administrative landscapes.
Despite many expectations from the global community, Nigeria and indeed other African countries have yet to adequately leverage ICT and the Internet to enhance governance. In fact, Nigeria failed to make the top 50 of the United Nations e-Government readiness index for 2010.
Though the Federal Government has not stopped campaigning about its readiness to embrace e-Governance and drive state affairs with ICT, experts say it has been all talk and no action.
Worried about the situation, the former President, Nigerian Internet Group, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, bemoans the fact that the Federal Government has yet to migrate its processes and activities online to encourage citizens to buy into it.
The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, on assumption of duty, highlighted e-Governance as one of the key indices of her mandate and promised that her ministry would facilitate the adoption of e-Governance in the country.
While the entire nation and ICT stakeholders (who understand the imperative of e-Governance to economic growth) wait for holistic implementation by the Federal Government, a number of state governments have been adopting ICT to drive governance.
Lagos State has entrenched ICT in the entire state apparatus with significant impact on land management, payroll management, internal revenue, education, health, and data management among others.
The Cross River State, in a similar vein, is currently leveraging its investments in technology to automate its ministries, department and agencies, as well as enhance internally generated revenue, automate disbursements and payments by government. The objective is to improve accountability in governance and simplify access to social services.
Ekiti is another state showing leadership in the area of e-Governance not only in terms of continuous investment in ICT but also in the commitment of the state executive to sustaining e-Governance in the state.
The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while inaugurating the state’s integrated digital multimedia channels, said his administration had an unwavering priority to leverage ICT for ensuring effective governance.
According to him, the essence is to drive inclusive governance, demonstrate transparency in public service and make the government more accountable to the people that elected it.
The governor says the investment in the multi channel digital infrastructure will also boost telemedicine, education, computerised payroll management, e-Payment systems among others.
He says, “The reason behind what we are doing on the web and in our entire ICT operations is because we want to achieve effectiveness and efficiency in government. Governance is very central to this government and it is indeed the first item in the eight point agenda of the state. Besides, we are trying to ensure that we adopt anything that will assist us in reducing paper work and entrenching efficiency as well as ensuring that the citizens of the state can take ownership of government.”
Fayemi notes that a Governors’ Forum assessment, last year, placed Ekiti behind Lagos and Cross River States in the area of state government web presence. He, however, says the state has moved up to the second position behind Lagos following huge investment in integrated digital channels.
While predicting that the state will soon overtake Lagos in ICT compliance, Fayemi says, “I campaigned on the platform of a wireless state. I said Ekiti would become the Bangalore of Nigeria. We are in the process of providing fibre -optic cables in the capital city of Ado Ekiti. This intitiative will ride on the existing three fibre points already provided in the city by Main One, MultiLinks and Globacom. This will boost Internet connection by bringing the Internet to the desktop of every worker in the state. The Ekiti State University will be entirely Internet enabled.”
He further says, “We are deploying biometric infrastructure for payroll efficiency. We have also entered into partnership with Samsung West Africa to boost computer acquisition and digital literacy for civil servants. We are using ICT to run governance as well as working to do telemedcine while making our state a call centre hub in the country, riding on the fibre optic cable that would bring up to 45 megabyte of internet capacity into the city,”
Fayemi, who states that the government has taken ICT as a tool for plugging leakages in government revenues, says the deployment of robust ICT infrastructure to engender electronic payment jerked up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue by 466 per cent monthly in the last one year. According to him, the state’s IGR increased from a monthly N109m in 2010, when the current administration came to office to over N617m as at December, 2011.
The governor also says greater success has been recorded in the implementation of the state electronic receipt scheme for collecting IGR, which, he notes, has significantly improved the state’s IGR in almost five-fold.
“It was through e-paymnet that we are able to increase our revenue from N109m in 2010 to N617m as at December, 2011 in terms of IGR,” he adds.
Explaining further, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Mr. Kayode Jegede, says, “We believe the digital platform (inaugurated by the state) will boost efficiency in government’s service delivery to the people, make the government transparent and deepen communication between the people and the government.”
He adds that the initiative will engender an inclusive government where citizens have the modern channels to monitor government activities.
Jegede, reiterates that the state will partner with Main One Cable Company, Multi-Links and Globacom on the fibre optic cable project, explaining that the project will be private sector-led.
He says, “Although we have not yet put a cost on the project the way we pushing it, it is not going to be funded by the government; it’s going to be a private-led initiative. What we are doing is to encourage private telecoms companies that know the business to come and be doing it.”
Jegede explains that the government has hitherto depended on satellite for Internet connectivity, but it will now be on fibre at 45 megabyte. “The speed of Internet is going to increase drastically going forwards. So, we are getting involved with the private sector. It is going to be private sector-led initiative,” he says.
In his presentation, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of Dymore Vision Consulting Limited, the technical partner to the state on the project, Mr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo, says the Ekiti digital platform is the first of its kind in Nigeria, adding that among the top 20 most visited state government websites in Nigeria, Ekiti currently comes second, after Lagos.
According Emegbo, the Ekiti state digital platform will boost freedom of and access to information. This, he says, is because in that citizens can monitor the state government’s projects and plans through the array of rich multimedia content that abound on the channels.
Another important element of the digital infrastructure is the ‘Çontact Your Leader’ feature which contains the contact details (official email addresses and mobile phone numbers) of all members of the State Executive Council.
“Users can send free text messages and emails directly to each member of the State Executive Council. This helps to drastically reduce instances of red tapeism and bureaucratic bottlenecks in the public service within Ekiti State,” he says.
Experts, who urge the Federal Government and other states of the federation, to take a cue from the states leading the e-Governance crusade, say the benefits are enormous.
According to them, e-Governance greatly simplifies the process of information accumulation for citizens and businesses; it empowers people to gather information regarding any department of government and get involved in the process of decision making; leads to automation of services, ensuring that information regarding every work of public welfare is easily available to all citizens, eliminating corruption.
This article is written by Dayo Oketola for The Punch Newspaper and first published in The Punch on March 5, 2012.
Last modified: March 6, 2012