By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Propelled by the need to give citizens greater access to government information, the federal government has said it is putting measures in place to begin full-scale operation of paperless systems.
Speaking at the 3rd National Steering Committee meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, said; “The whole idea is to make governance a transparent system where citizens have confidence that they will have access to whatever information they need on how government is run, and that they will be able to communicate with government in such a manner that their government is run in more efficiently, transparently, accountably and that the citizens have confidence that nothing can go wrong in government.
According to him, a lot of government information is hidden in files and bookshelves, and people are hardly able to access them but with Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the quest to eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks and bring government closer to the people will be achieved.
He said: “We must generally accept that ICT is a new phenomenon in Nigeria. We are just making effort to make sure we localize and internalize it in our budgeting and other systems, and in doing so, there must certainly be challenges. Even individuals in the civil service who are used to files and papers might have problem of really changing but with the submission of government, governance will be a paperless system.
“Whether in the urban areas or rural areas with access to internet, every Nigerian should be able to have access to government information.”
He added that the paperless initiative by the federal government was expected to be duplicated in the states, saying “as far as possible, states must ensure that they follow suit. So, whatever government is doing at the federal level by way of access for the citizenry, they must also derive the same benefits from the government they voted for at the state level and the local government levels.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who is also the co-chair of Nigeria’s OGP initiative, called on fellow cabinet Ministers and heads of departments and agencies to step-up their commitments to Nigeria’s open government partnership, and to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in achieving the goals set out in the National Action Plan.
He also urged citizens to make conscious efforts to engage with OGP initiatives, and in the process, call government to question.
“The government under the leadership of President Buhari is operating a transparent and open government for the purpose of accommodating the citizens to ensure there is adequate transparency and accountability in the business of governance. But there should be people that will call government to questions; that will seek to know and who are entitled to information. Nigerians should participate actively in the process of OGP,” Malami said.