BY EMMA ELEBEKE
In a move to digitalize the Nigerian law making process, the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, has begun an ICT training programme for the Senate in Abuja.
This followed the successful conclusion of similar training for the House of Representatives in 2012.
The ICT training scheme is an initiative of NITDA aimed at arming the legislative arm of government with requisite ICT tools to be able to migrate from the analogue mode to ICT-driven legislation in tune with world best practices.
According to NITDA, the ICT instruction was designed to enhance their legislative duties and ultimately increase legislative output.
Speaking at the occasion, Director-General of NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye, said the major potential of ICT lies in the area of assisting in transforming government processes thereby enhancing the pace of national development.
He said that Nigerian legislators must key into e-parliament and ICT usage in order to be part of the global process, adding that the lawmakers should take the advantage of the massive increase in internet penetration in the country in carrying out their legislative duties.
Angaye, who expressed optimism on the importance of ICT to the economy, noted that the surge in ICT usage in the country has paid off through increased foreign direct investment, FDI and contributed about five percent to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and insisted that many things wouldn’t work without the aid of ICT.
“Nigerian investment in ICT is already yielding positive fruits and enhancing service delivery and laying solid foundation for the Nigeria e-government initiative. The training of the senators is yet another major effort at building the ICT capacity in the legislative arm of government in Nigeria with the aim to impact maximum knowledge to further enhance their legislative duties,’’ he stated.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, underscored the importance of ICT in nation building, saying that its importance cannot be over emphasized.
For him, concepts such as e-voting, e-democracy, e-participation, online campaigning and e-parliament are the most powerful proof of the use of ICT in political activities, processes and institutions.
Sen. Nnaji explained that ICT has proved to be a significant supportive and facilitative power for the effective fulfilling of the duties and responsibilities granted to parliaments by the constitution.
“In order to carry out the functions of legislation, representation and inspection more effectively, to connect with the public, to implement the concept of public participation and to improve the image of politics in general and parliaments in particular in the minds of the public, parliaments the world over are exploiting the advantages offered by ICT.”
“If the parliament is the representative body through which people find expression, in which their diversity is manifested and in which the differences between them are debated and negotiated, then parliamentarians have to be abreast of opportunities provided by ICT for efficient public service delivery and enhancing social inclusion.”
“Creative and innovative legislation in a fast and cost effective manner and this can be achieved by ensuring that our information systems provide both information and communication that meet the criteria of clarity, accuracy, timeliness, completeness and the provision of feedback in dealing with our various constituents.
“It is my hope that after this workshop, we would have achieved the objectives of harnessing the potential benefits of ICT to support our constitutional functions as a legislature and our administrative efficiency, information access dissemination and interaction with citizens would have witnessed further improvement,” he said.
On his part, another participating, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, said there is no alternative to digital legislation if Nigerian legislative process must be made effective and efficient.
“As the world is changing, one has to get more acquainted with the latest in the ways we conduct our business because in making laws, more researches have to be done, which is the practice globally, and in doing this, we’ll be able to be updated with the latest in the world.”
According to him, “It simplifies your job in the essence of being able to use gadgets that will aid your work; it makes the work faster, the research quicker and more conductive either on the senate’s floor or at home.