CUCEN Participants Urge Govt. to Adopt e-Governance in Change Programme
The much desired change in the political and socio-economic fortunes of Nigeria would be a faith accompli if governments at all levels can adopt the e-Governance policy.
That was the unanimous submission of participants at the opening plenary session of the 2016 Covenant University Conference on e-Governance in Nigeria (CUCEN), with the theme, ‘Information and Communication Technologies for Governance in Nigeria: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities’.
The Chancellor of Covenant University, Dr. David Oyedepo, who set the tone for discussion at the conference held at the African Leadership Development Centre on the premises of the university in Ota, Ogun State, said it has become imperative that governments in Nigeria utilize Information Communication Technology (ICT) in finding solutions to myriad of problems plaguing the nation, which remains seemingly intractable.
“We need the age of IT to move forward,” said the Chancellor. “Yes I’m optimistic, but am in doubt that we are moving forward. There are certain questions you asked at governmental level but there are no answers.
“The truth is that knowledge will always lead the way forward. The more current any institution, the more progress. It’s a common fact that education drives civilization; no nation can be greater than the level of information at its disposal.”
In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Ayo, said Covenant University, as an institution that has deployed ICT into every facet of its operations and widely acclaimed as the best ICT-driven University in Nigeria and West Africa, the school has developed indigenous systems that can be utilized by government to conserve foreign exchange.
“ICT has the potential to reduce bureaucracy that attends administration of government in a cost effective manner. Therefore e-governance is the foundation that this present administration must lay if the much desired change is to occur.
“We have developed solutions that are begging for adoption. Some of these products include e-Democracy, e-Polling System, e-Voting system, e-Petition system and an indigenous Card Reader, just to mention a few,” said Professor Ayo.
The Special Guest of Honour, Honourable Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, who was unavoidably absent but represented by the Director of ICT in the establishment, Mr. Tope Fasedemi, acknowledged the critical role of information technology in the facilitation of a seamless and transparent process of governance and assured that the communications ministry would partner with Covenant University in the institution’s quest of enhancing development in the country.
The minister said that his ministry is not oblivious of the importance ICT plays in running government in the modern world, while revealing that in conformity with the trend, the Nigerian government had initiated various projects aimed at accomplishing the goal of e-Governance.
“The ministry has initiated a number of projects for the adoption of e-government with focus on the various sectors of the economy. The ministry embarked on an elaborate project for the development of an e-government Master plan for the federal budget; setting up an advisory group chaired by the minister himself, support units on different thematic topics and a joint consultative team made of several technical members.
“Organization of e-government workshops involving various stakeholders; benchmarking against different countries and different case studies like Korea, Kenya, South Africa, USA, Finland and others. Legal system and organisational framework were also factored; mineral development and awareness. Ultimately, we want to achieve competent, transparent and result-oriented government based on virtues of openness,” Shittu said.
He described e-governance as a means of information, as a tool to facilitate improved service delivery between government and its customers. Customers, he said, refer to the citizens, registered businesses, state governments, local governments, foreign governments, among others.
Shittu explained: “There are several advantages to be derived from e-governance. It is cost saving, there is result and efficiency in service delivery, it enhances transparency and accountability and improved public administration.
“In recognition of the benefits accruable with the adoption of e-governance, the United Nations encourages member-nations to continue to improve on e-government adoption.
“There is a positive relationship between the national income of a country and adoption of e-government for development. Hence it is our fervent believe that holistic adoption of e-governance will give improved result in nation building.”
Delivering his speech at the occasion, the Keynote Speaker, Sir Ademola Aladekomo, Chairman of Smart City Resorts and Chams Plc, whose address was titled, ‘Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Governance in a turbulent Clime’, said Nigeria has the potential to be one of the world’s greatest economies but fundamental problems, which he dubbed “Toll Gates”, stand between the country and the occupation of its rightful place in the comity of successful nations.
Aladekomo listed the toll gates as government’s overbearing influence on the economy, unavailability of basic infrastructures, inconsistent government policies, insurgency, and bastardisation of institutions, which he said had made Nigeria a “turbulent clime”.
However, he said, the turbulence that pervades the country offers a lot of opportunities. “A lot of opportunities that you see are camouflaged as turbulence. The issue of power, there are opportunities for to invest in clean energy. The issue of water, there are opportunities for somebody to become a billionaire in water.
“I envisage the business we do today, in another 20 years, the process will change. There is new knowledge; innovative approach towards resolving problems,” he noted.
The keynote speaker, in his recommendations, advocated that government should allow a free market economy, strengthen the country’s institutions, encourage Private Public Partnership (PPP), consistent policies, sustain the fight against corruption, and partnership between institutions and the industries.
“Government needs to hands off business and just focus on security, policing, rule of law. Our institutions should be strengthened; the judiciary, the police and the armed forces are very weak. Without strong institutions no nation can survive. We need to strengthened the civil survive to be able to survive.
“For us in entrepreneurship and innovation, PPP is the key for us. Government must hands of running of refineries, focus on provision of basic infrastructure like transportation, power, roads, and education; leave business for those that can run it. Let’s abolish all these toll gates
“Sustain the fight against corruption. If we did not kill corruption, corruption will kill this country. It’s a virus that is eating deep into the fabrics of this society. Government policies must be predictable, they must be stable.
“Let us have institution/industry partnership. We need to overhaul our curriculum. We need to focus more on entrepreneurship and ICT, which is what CU has done exceptionally well. For other universities IT is going to rule the world, they don’t just have a choice. Let us overhaul our curriculum in such a way that nobody leaves any higher institution without becoming a professional. IT is no longer a course, but a way of life,” said Aladekomo.
The Chairman, Conference Organising Committee, Professor Patience Akpan-Obong, thanked participants for their contributions. “We are all part of this dream,” she said. “The dream that is CUCEN, the brain child of Professor Charles Ayo, the Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University.
“Our dream is that one day the integration of ICT will become such an integral part of our lives that we will be oblivious of them and there will be no need for a conference on e-governance.”
The two-day event attracted participants from various levels of government, the industry, the academia and the media.