By Emmanuel Elebeke
Technology experts including eminent Nigerians have said that information and technology driven economyÂ is the onlyÂ way to Nigeriaâ€™sÂ future. They also adopted e-governance as the only tool that could engender good and peopleÂ oriented governance in Nigeria..
Their position is that if it is possible for the developedÂ nations of the world toÂ get it right through technology and e-governance, Nigeria can as well leapfrog from its present status ofÂ 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 concludedÂ 2009 Nigerian Telecom Exhibition held in Lagos, with the verdict that if Nigeria must level up with the rest of theÂ world in terms ofÂ good governance and socio-economic development, her civil rule characterized by militarized styleÂ of administration and monumental corruption and consequentialÂ socio-economic vices must be eradicatedÂ throughÂ e-governance.
With the theme â€œIn search of Good Governance: Discussing Politics; Governance and Securityâ€, the occasionÂ attractedÂ Nigerian leading IT experts and eminent citizens including the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian CommunicationÂ Commission (NCC), Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, President Association ofÂ Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ATCON),Â Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, President, Nigerian Internet Group, Lanre Ajayi, Ambassador Shehu Malami, former President ofÂ Serria Leon, Ahmed Tejan Kabban,Â former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; governor of Lagos State, LagosÂ State Commissioner of Police, Marvel Akpoyibo among others
With a capacity audience, speakers after speaker took their turn to brainstorm on the theme and otherÂ issuesÂ responsible for Nigeriaâ€™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 ofÂ technology and e-governance unanimously adoptedÂ e-governance as the best system of governance that could enableÂ Nigeria achieve her vision 2020 dreams.
They saidÂ technology and e-governanceÂ haveÂ becomeÂ critical tools for achieving good and people orientedÂ Â governance as evidenced in some developed countries and few states in Nigeria, as well as some federal governmentÂ parastatals where it was adopted, adding that the systemÂ has proved to be the most transparent, accountable andÂ fastest system of governance everywhere in the world, including Nigeria and urged government at all levels to adoptÂ 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 governmentÂ Â must be prepared to show commitment, political will and honesty in doing this by creating the enabling environmentÂ such as computerizing all government parastatals and schools;Â retraining of staff on IT applications, constantÂ power supply and infrastructure repairs.
They cautioned that Nigerian may be heading to precipice if the government fails to embrace e-governance and cannotÂ afford to be in isolation now the systemÂ has become a norm in other parts of the world..
According the EVC of NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Information and Communication Technology facilities have becomeÂ critical tools especially in the informal sector where people are disenfranchised, saying that ICT remains the onlyÂ tool that could be used to strengthen their capacity to achieving a common goal of Millennium Development Goals.
Ndukwe whoÂ described broad band as the future the world, said we are in a digital revolution and for Nigeria to beÂ part of the transformation he saidÂ broadband and mobile communicationÂ access in Nigeria must be made available toÂ the undeserved areas , as the duo he said have engendered what he called ubiquitous access to network in theÂ communication world.
â€œWe are in a digital revolution, broadband and mobile communication are the future of the world. It is growing at aÂ rather fast rate. It is a trend towards ubiquitous access to networks from anywhere in the world. Broadband andÂ mobile phones drive this ubiquitous connectivities. It does not only include in its content only phone calls,Â internet access but also movies andÂ music.â€
Though, one string attached to it is high cost, but our hope is that soon, access will be extendedÂ to all areas. ToÂ us, broadband is critical. We must do whatever that is needed to make it spread and accessible to every nooks andÂ crannies of Nigeria, and fast broadband deployment must be driven through mobile network. We are in a hurry to doÂ that because of the importance of its importance to the national development. When this is done, it will driveÂ broadband penetration into the future.â€ said Ndukwe.
He however, cautioned government against discouraging investors through the imposition of multiple taxation,Â 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 positedÂ that no nation can develop only on its natural resources without exploiting its technology potentials and attributedÂ the strive ravaging African countries on economic woes due to their neglect ofÂ technology.
According to him, unless the e-lights class in the society embrace e-governance and take the centre stage in policyÂ making and government administration in the country, nothing can be achieved in the emerging democracy in NigeriaÂ and in Africa as a whole.
On his part, the governor of Lagos State,Babatunde Fashola,Â represented by Mr. Joe Igbokwe said the importance ofÂ e-governance cannot be over emphasize in the modern democracy. E-governance according to Fashola, provides directÂ participation of the people in government, re-engineers the governmentâ€™s activities, puts the government under theÂ search light of the people ,promotes transparency and makes work faster. And it was in realization of these factsÂ that he e said Lagos State government adopted the system and was able toÂ transform its activities intoÂ e-governance, making all parastatals in the state IT driven.
â€œOur government must woke up and embrace e-governance. Their inability to achieve this is not because they lack theÂ 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 ifÂ we put in effort, we can replicate same here in Nigeria.â€ said Fashola.
It is generally believed that no nation can prosper on the basis of its natural resources or inherited riches but onÂ economy built on ICT and e-governance.Â Mass education and enlightenment campaign on ICT and e-governance system,Â 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.