The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the public sector and how they affect the service delivery of government was brought to fore on Thursday, as stakeholders in government, industry and academia, converged at an International Conference on E-governance in Nigeria, which took place at Covenant University, Ota.
Guest Speakers and the participants alike agreed at the conference which was the fourth edition, with the theme: “Government and Public Service Delivery in Nigeria: The Role of Information and Communication Technologies,” that ICTs function as one of the stimuli for corporate growth in all aspects of government.
The Keynote Speaker, Professor Vincent Asor, submitted that ICTs aid socio-economic development by enabling the citizens directly communicate to the government through mobile communication and Internet service in order to voice out and suggest developmental project needs of the people at a local level within a state.
Information and Communication Technologies, he said, help create new and better service delivery by increasing the coordination of public sector procedures and management.
“The efficiency of ICTs can reduce errors and improve the consistency of outcomes of governmental projects through automating standard tasks. It also reduces costs and many layers of organisational processes by streamlining operating procedures, through e-application and reduction in time spent on repetitive tasks,” he explained.
Professor Asor, who is also the President and Chairman of Council, Computer Professionals (Registration Council of) Nigeria, CPN, argued that the absolute goal of the e-governance regime is to ensure that it provides an expanded range of public service to citizens in a systematic and cost-effective manner.
The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, dwelt on three areas vis-à-vis, participatory governance, unhindered access to information, and breaking bureaucratic bottleneck, in which, ICTs role must be immediately exploited in order to fully key Nigeria into democratic governance and help the full delivery of the dividends of democracy.
“It is my conviction that if the people can insist on the full integration of ICTs in government, to the point that our citizens can fully participate in the leadership process, have unhindered access to information, and reduce bureaucracy, we would have won the fight against corruption without lifting a finger,” he explained.
Hon. Luke, who was represented by a member of the House and Chairman, Committee on Education, Hon. Samuel Ufuo noted that until citizens act in unison to demand more ICT-driven governance among others, the benefits of ICTs in modern day governance would continue to elude all.
The Chancellor, Covenant University, Dr. David Oyedepo, represented by the Education Secretary of the Living Faith Church Worldwide (the proprietor base of University), Professor Bridget Sokan, who declared the conference open, commended the modest achievement of the implementation of some e-government initiatives such as e-tax, e-procurement, e-payment and e-remittance in some states.
He expressed hope that the engagements during the conference would help to identify ICT-based, viable, and actionable pathways that would curb the impediments to good public service delivery and impactful governance in Nigeria.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor AAA. Atayero, in his remarks, noted that Covenant University has vibrant research clusters in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Computer and Information Sciences and Electrical and Information Engineering that have implemented usable models and solutions that could foster improved e-governance in Nigeria.
Some of these, he said, include e-opinion poll for national polling during elections or referendums, e-podium for learning in higher institutions and e-surveillance for national security. Adding that the University was open to all forms of useful joint initiatives and collaborations with government agencies and the industry at all levels in the areas of research and development towards national development.
“We are particularly committed to this in view of our pursuit of Vision 10:2022, which seeks to enlist Covenant University among the best 10 universities in the world by the year 2022”.