By Ikenna Asomba
From many government establishments like the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Ministry of Agriculture, to states like Lagos, Osun among many others, glowing stories have been shared on how simple implementation of tech solutions magically stamped out ghost workers, reduced spending, increased productivity and raised revenue generation within hours of introduction.
However, the problem has been to have a policy that will see this adoption, generally, in both the country’s social and political sectors. However, in a related bid, the country has spent billions of Naira, funding the country’s official corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which many have argued has not achieved a landslide.
Comparing roles of the two in this interview, President, Records and Information Management Awareness, RIMA, Foundation, Dr. Oyewole Oyedokun said that while EFCC would only instil fear in the hearts of perpetrators which may not stamp out corruption, technology will bring a lasting solution and take the country light years ahead of other emerging economies. Excerpts:
Many people will have this question; why RIMA Foundation?
Well, RIMA Foundation is an acronym for Records and Information Awareness Foundation. It was set up to help develop the information management industry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. The IM industry has the potential to help stimulate the economy of the country and also that of the continent. It has got potentials to provide both employment and investment opportunities.
Today, different individuals working in different organizations in the information management industry don’t have a common platform where they can come together, neither do they have any institute that could help them enhance their career. Now the foundation has taken it upon itself to help some of these people and some of these organizations. You will be surprised that so many big organizations have challenges when it comes to managing information. And there seem not to be organizations that are specialized in proffering solutions to some of these problems. RIMA Foundation is trying to create awareness for such people.
With the growth of ICT, is information management rocket science?
Like I always tell people, information management is not only about technology; you can actually manage information even without IT. But the advent of Information Technology has also really helped a great deal. For instance, if you manage information and records manually, there are so many limitations, but if you have to manage it using technology it makes it a lot more easier.
For example, technology gives you the flexibility in file sharing and collaboration. Having a file uploaded in Nigeria, could be shared by 20 people in 20 countries of the world simultaneously. But this is impossible in a manual process, where you have to transport the documents to them one after the other. So, you can see how helpful technology can be.
Also, in the area of storage, you could have millions of files stored in a file room or warehouse. And if you have to store all those file, it can be stored just on a DVD or small flash-drive that you can carry about in your pocket or bag. But without IT, such documents could be stored in a warehouse having over 50, 000 archive boxes. So, technology has been tremendously helpful to the information management industry.
Why is information management a very critical part of our life, yet seems so unpopular among people?
Information is an asset to any organization. So, if any organization is protecting its other assets, leaving information behind, it’s a huge mistake. For instance, an organization should have a policy, should have standards they are working with, they should have procedures and they should have plans and certifications in place that will guide the management of information within their organization. But most of them, are not conscious of this fact.
Information that is not properly managed, could wreck a multi-billion dollar company. In fact it wrecks governments the more. It’s actually suicidal to take information management as a secondary thing. But in this country it’s easy to see the little money that is supposed to be invested in information management, embezzled and when trouble comes it sets either the company or government involved way back in terms of growth. Ironically, we are crying over corruption and are spending huge sums to only instil fear when simple adoption of technology solutions that would make information open to all, would check the menace and send us ahead of other emerging economies.
Can you regard Nigeria as conscious of information management?
Well, it’s not a yes or no affair. If not for some of the political and leadership challenges, perhaps we would have gone beyond where we are today. If you take that the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Information now has a portal, information about events of the ministry are uploaded instantly, you will agree that things are getting better. In the past, when you check some state websites, you see stale information. Even some states where they have a new administration, you still could see the photographs of the past governors on their website. So, that’s to tell you how far the level of awareness has gone.