Open data and E-Government equal Transparency and Accountability
The overwhelming task of fixing Nigeria’ s mirage of problems has beclouded a lot of people not to appreciate the great effort being put in place to reposition Nigeria as a working country. The pulsating headline in the dailies dishing out the level of corruption interplaying in the system has made it easy for some Nigerians to lose hope that the nation will not attain its rightful position in the comity of nations.
The number of corruption cases being exposed and prosecuted in recent time indicates that it is no longer business as usual as the government would allow corruption cases to take its natural cause without intervention from any quarters. This shows that Nigeria is developing into a democratic space with less impunity in the society.
This is a plus for the government based on the fact that they are using policies and strategies that will not create room for corruption through the adoption of Information communication technology (ICT) to remove the avenue for people to manipulate the process.
The introduction of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) in all the Ministries, Extra Ministerial/Agencies (MDAs), expansion of Treasury Single Account (TSA), deployment of BVN for payroll and Social Investment programmes, New Whistleblowing policy, Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS), and Voluntary Assets and Income Scheme (VAID), 24-hour business registration, Replacement of old Cash-Based Accounting System with an Accruals-Based System, Reform of longstanding Petroleum Cash Call Arrangement and Pension administration, as well as Enlistment into Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria Open Data Policy and Nigeria E-Government Master Plan have saved billions of naira for Nigeria.
This endemic situation is a worldwide phenomenon which other nations had control through review of their laws and regulations in tandem with present situations. This is currently been done in Nigeria as part of various reforms going on in the country. The reform of our laws is sine qua to compliment the effort of the government to improve the doing business criteria in the country as well as provide enabling environment for business and investment to strive.
Nigeria is moving towards global practice to stem corruption through system restructure and there is the need for state and local government to take a cue from these reforms being introduced and support it to succeed.
Currently, Federal Government is meeting with stakeholders on open data policy and E-Government Master Plan which are veritable policies to curb corruption, open sectors to create opportunities for economic growth, investment, jobs, and information sharing.
Open Data has gained traction in the global space in view of the awareness of citizens of their rights and the emergence of the Open Government Partnership(OGP) and digital revolution as well as the recognition of the economic benefits of Open Data.
It is common knowledge to everyone that, Ministries, Extra-Ministerial and Agencies (MDAs) website generates a lot of data in Nigeria and entrepreneurs can use the data to create new products and services as well as insight into the operation of government activities.
It is well known that Nigeria signed into Open Government Partnership(OGP) in 2016 which is a new initiatives involving more than 70 countries in the world and aimed at securing concrete commitment from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective and accountable.
It is worthy to note that some states have now commenced their open data initiatives and portals; there is no hidden place for the start-ups and innovative Nigeria youths to deploy their knowledge in finding solutions to the mirage of problems confronting this nation.
They can now develop applications that would ease traffic jams in our cities. Analysis data from government website to create applications that would ease business operation in public hospitals, create software that would enable students in the secondary and higher institutions to have less cumbersome registration and creation of applications that would monitor our environment as well as applications that would curb our security challenges.
Nigerians need not to sit at the fence now as the government has provided the necessary impetus to monitor their activities especially in the area of projects implementation in all Ministry, Extra Ministerial and Agencies (MDAs) in the country.
We have to be involved to monitor the budget preparation and execution as well as monitoring of contractors working on various projects in the country. This is an opportunity for our youths in the ICT sector to deploy their creativity and ingenuity to develop software that would enable citizens to monitor and report progress of government projects in the country.
In addition, Nigerians have to be aware that the Federal Government is committed to the following actions in concert with the international Open Data Charter and its principles such as publishing open data in a discoverable, machine-readable, useful formats, work with civil society organization to prioritize open data sets for release and support to innovators and improve open data based on feedback.
In an exhibition of transparency, Federal Government has intensified effort to make government business easily accessible to citizens through the development of Nigeria E-Government Master Plan which overall purpose is to strengthen the efficiency and transparency of public administrative service in the country.
As the policy stated that its vision is “To create a world class open and digitized government that connects with people to drive efficiency in public administration, responsiveness of civil services and transparency in governance leading to improvement of the quality of life of Nigerians”.
The focus now is on the citizens not on government as there are ample opportunities for our digitalize youths to explore and contribute to the development of the country rather lamenting on lack of formal jobs in the country.
The onus now lies with citizens to contribute their positive actions toward making the government a transparent and accountable to the people. Nigeria youths need to embrace this opportunity to be innovative and entrepreneurship to use technology to create jobs, participate in governance, promote transparency, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective and accountable