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IT, E-government As Tonic For Transparent, Effective Governance

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A lot has been said about the application of information technology (IT) for governance holding tremendous potential to improve the way governments deliver public services. It, no doubt, facilitates seamless exchange of information among between MDAs’  IT infrastructure and application which is critical to cross-portfolio service delivery and public service transformation.

At the stakeholders’ engagement on Nigeria e-Government interoperability framework (Ne-GIF) convened by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja, the director general of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami said applying information technology (IT) for governance held tremendous potential to improve the way governments deliver public services.

He stated that the full implementation of e-government and proper deployment of ICT tools could cut down the cost of governance, improve national economic growth; enhance access and quality of services as well as render public agencies more transparent and accountable.

He said integration of all governance processes would help the country fight graft by enhancing accountability, transparency and elimination of corruption in the system.

“We recognize the enormity of the responsibilities placed on the agency as well as the possibilities of IT or e-government as a development resource for achieving socio-economic transformation.

‘‘Accordingly, at this information age, going digital for any government is the optimal route to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When all governance processes are integrated, you do not need personal contact or see somebody because he treats whatever you apply for. It will help eliminate corruption. Without accountability and transparency, we can’t fight corruption,” he pointed out.

He said NITDA was committed to change the narrative by working closely with stakeholders to remove existing barriers caused by silo deployment of IT solutions in the ministries, departments and agencies of government, hence the need for the stakeholders’ forum to review the e-Government Interoperability Framework (Ne-GIF) for efficient service delivery.

‘‘The barriers have made information sharing a nightmare among MDAs. It is an obvious fact that applying information technology (IT) for governance holds tremendous potential to improve the way governments deliver public services.

‘‘It is worthy to note that seamless exchange of information between various MDAs’ IT infrastructure and applications is critical to cross-portfolio service delivery and public service transformation. Section 6c of the NITDA Act, 2007 states that the agency shall develop guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in all sectors of the economy, where the use of electronic communication may improve the exchange of data and information,” he said.

He listed Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Government Information Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Bank Verification Number (BVN), e-taxation, e-passport, e-wallet for farmers among others as some of the areas Nigeria has her own share of good experience of e-government or ICT adoption for streamlining and improving governance.

Listing gains from embracing these technological innovations, Pantami noted that the Federal Government saves over N296 billion annually through the implementation of Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and Treasury Single Account by ministries, departments and agencies.

According to him, federal government saves N240 billion annually through the implementation of IPPIS and also saves N56.4 billion annually through the implementation of TSA.

The NITDA boss stated that the workshop was to review proposed Nigeria e-government interoperability framework meant to integrate IT projects in MDAs to eliminate execution of IT projects in silos.

He said: “We think there is need to come up with a framework. Many nations have their own framework, but Nigeria is yet to have one. It is better than never. The Ne-GIF is expected to provide tools, specifications and recommendations that are based on standards for supporting MDAs in undertaking interoperability of e-government solutions for the provision of cross-portfolio services.

‘‘Leveraging on ICT to ensure seamless information exchange is a prerequisite to achieving ERGP objectives, Sustainable Development Goals by United Nations and attaining our desired Government Digital Transformation Agenda. We need to build capacity and ensure the right leadership is provided across MDAs.”

Presenting the draft for review, Lukman Lamid, of the e-government coordination and capacity development unit of the agency said e-government interoperability required steps.

According to him, the UN’s directive to achieve e-government requires Whole-of-Government, WOG approach, policy integration and big data analytics.

He, however, said Nigeria had performed poorly in WOG approach, adding interoperability of ICT system was lacking.

“Levels of interoperability are organisational, semantics and technical which every MDA needs to follow to ensure integration,” he said, pointing out that Ne-GIF must include IT standardisation, principles, flexibility, openness, accessibility, reusability for relevance.

Lamid said human factor which involves process of definition to deliver integrated service and technical factors could contribute to delays in implementation of Ne-GIF.

“Ne-GIF recommends that MDAs should greatly adopt open standard and specifically use web and internet technology for the development of e-services application and platform.

“It recommends that web resources should be presented in XML/JSON format,” he said.

Presenting compliance and review of the draft, Martha Ighomena from the agency’s regulation and licensing unit said MDAs and the private sector needed to comply for effective service delivery.

She said the draft needed to be reviewed biannually considering the fast-changing nature of IT to conform to the best international practice standards.



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