With Adekunle Adekoya
AS you read this, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) is holding its 10th International Conference at the International Conference Centre, in Abuja.For those who may not know, NCS, apart from being the organized platform for all computer professionals in the country, also incorporates the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), and the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON).
It is unlikely that there are persons (minus quacks and unlettered traders), operating in the IT realm in Nigeria that do not belong to these bodies, and by extension, NCS.
Last year, NCS held its 23rd annual conference in Asaba, with the theme Realising a Stable Democratic Political System in Nigeria: IT Tools and Strategies. The five-day confab also featured a Research Consortium on Information Technology Innovations.
The theme of last year’s confab was apt; the nation was preparing for what many had tagged a make-or-mar election, which, in retrospect, we somehow managed to passably get right. At last year’s NCS confab, endless presentations were made under the broad categories of using IT as enabler to properly create awareness and engage people in the political process;
Assuring integrity of the electoral system through automation, bridging the gender gap using IT; resolving electoral disputes using IT; accountability and transparency in governance using e-payment, another IT tool; and effective election information management system, to mention a few.
As far as the 2011 elections was concerned, it would seem as if government deliberately chose to ignore these brilliant Nigerians as they proffered solutions to the nation’s problems.
Despite serial initiatives by NCS, Professor Jega’s INEC just could not muster the courage to partner with NCS in its quest to conduct a transparent election. The elections have come and gone, but we wait till 2015 to see whether we’ll have home-grown IT solutions, deployed by Nigerians for the electoral process or not.
Now, NCS is holding another confab, which is in its third day today, with the theme, Information Technology for People-Centred Development (ITePED 2011).
According to chairman of the NCS Conferences Committee, Mr Afolabi Salisu, the on-going confab will “ focus on the micro issues that affect people directly, i.e. how Information Technology (IT) could be used for People Empowerment or People Centred Development.
“This will be approached not only from the policy perspective that addresses the required enabling environment (the general strand in most of our past conferences), which is largely in the purview of government and governance, but also with a good dose of practical orientation that opens up the opportunities and challenge people to take full advantage of IT, regardless of limitations of the policy environment.”
Again, countless presentations would be made and endless exhortations would also be made of government.
For a nation that has a poverty alleviation programme, the on-going confab is auspicious for the home-grown solutions it is coming up with, using IT tools. But I have my fears.
In 2012, when NCS holds another confab, we might be reviewing just the rhetorics again; no action would have been taken.
In other words, we might remain where we are, eternally, unless there is a deliberate action towards change by our leaders. And that is what we really need.