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Eminent Nigerians drum support for ICT

By Emmanuel Elebeke
•Adopt e-governance

Technology experts including eminent Nigerians have said that information and technology driven economy  is the only  way to Nigeria’s  future. They also adopted e-governance as the only tool that could engender good and people  oriented governance in Nigeria..

Their position is that if it is possible for the developed  nations of the world to  get it right through technology and e-governance, Nigeria can as well leapfrog from its present status of  underdevelopment to a fully developed global giant, as it cannot afford to stand alone.
The position was taken at the 6th Nigerian Telecom Development Lecture (NITDEL), being part of the just concluded  2009 Nigerian Telecom Exhibition held in Lagos, with the verdict that if Nigeria must level up with the rest of the  world in terms of  good governance and socio-economic development, her civil rule characterized by militarized style  of administration and monumental corruption and consequential  socio-economic vices must be eradicated  through  e-governance.

With the theme “In search of Good Governance: Discussing Politics; Governance and Security”, the occasion  attracted  Nigerian leading IT experts and eminent citizens including the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communication  Commission (NCC), Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, President Association of  Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ATCON),  Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, President, Nigerian Internet Group, Lanre Ajayi, Ambassador Shehu Malami, former President of  Serria Leon, Ahmed Tejan Kabban,  former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; governor of Lagos State, Lagos  State Commissioner of Police, Marvel Akpoyibo among others

With a capacity audience, speakers after speaker took their turn to brainstorm on the theme and other  issues  responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment, especially as it concerns good governance and social insecurity.
The speakers after a critical observation on the development indices of some developed nations courtesy of  technology and e-governance unanimously adopted  e-governance as the best system of governance that could enable  Nigeria achieve her vision 2020 dreams.

They said  technology and e-governance  have  become  critical tools for achieving good and people oriented   governance as evidenced in some developed countries and few states in Nigeria, as well as some federal government  parastatals where it was adopted, adding that the system  has proved to be the most transparent, accountable and  fastest system of governance everywhere in the world, including Nigeria and urged government at all levels to adopt  the system for the benefit of the people and the nation.

The growth of technology and adoption of e-governance, the experts say may appear easy, but said Nigerian government   must be prepared to show commitment, political will and honesty in doing this by creating the enabling environment  such as computerizing all government parastatals and schools;  retraining of staff on IT applications, constant  power supply and infrastructure repairs.

They cautioned that Nigerian may be heading to precipice if the government fails to embrace e-governance and cannot  afford to be in isolation now the system  has become a norm in other parts of the world..
According the EVC of NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Information and Communication Technology facilities have become  critical tools especially in the informal sector where people are disenfranchised, saying that ICT remains the only  tool that could be used to strengthen their capacity to achieving a common goal of Millennium Development Goals.
Ndukwe who  described broad band as the future the world, said we are in a digital revolution and for Nigeria to be  part of the transformation he said  broadband and mobile communication  access in Nigeria must be made available to  the undeserved areas , as the duo he said have engendered what he called ubiquitous access to network in the  communication world.

“We are in a digital revolution, broadband and mobile communication are the future of the world. It is growing at a  rather fast rate. It is a trend towards ubiquitous access to networks from anywhere in the world. Broadband and  mobile phones drive this ubiquitous connectivities. It does not only include in its content only phone calls,  internet access but also movies and  music.”

Though, one string attached to it is high cost, but our hope is that soon, access will be extended  to all areas. To  us, broadband is critical. We must do whatever that is needed to make it spread and accessible to every nooks and  crannies of Nigeria, and fast broadband deployment must be driven through mobile network. We are in a hurry to do  that because of the importance of its importance to the national development. When this is done, it will drive  broadband penetration into the future.” said Ndukwe.

He however, cautioned government against discouraging investors through the imposition of multiple taxation,  pointing out that investments will go where they are attracted with the right environment provided.
Former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke said technology remains the backbone of every economy. He posited  that no nation can develop only on its natural resources without exploiting its technology potentials and attributed  the strive ravaging African countries on economic woes due to their neglect of  technology.
According to him, unless the e-lights class in the society embrace e-governance and take the centre stage in policy  making and government administration in the country, nothing can be achieved in the emerging democracy in Nigeria  and in Africa as a whole.

On his part, the governor of Lagos State,Babatunde Fashola,  represented by Mr. Joe Igbokwe said the importance of  e-governance cannot be over emphasize in the modern democracy. E-governance according to Fashola, provides direct  participation of the people in government, re-engineers the government’s activities, puts the government under the  search light of the people ,promotes transparency and makes work faster. And it was in realization of these facts  that he e said Lagos State government adopted the system and was able to  transform its activities into  e-governance, making all parastatals in the state IT driven.
“Our government must woke up and embrace e-governance. Their inability to achieve this is not because they lack the  resources but because they lack ideas.

The developed nations were able to achieve these for their children by dint of hard work without oil and gas, and if  we put in effort, we can replicate same here in Nigeria.” said Fashola.
It is generally believed that no nation can prosper on the basis of its natural resources or inherited riches but on  economy built on ICT and e-governance.  Mass education and enlightenment campaign on ICT and e-governance system,  provision of enabling environment and power supply therefore, become inevitable.
ICT and e-governance will put Nigeria on the right footings of transforming her riches to prosperity.


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