Reforming governance via technology
Yesterday at SMW Lagos, EiE Nigeria in collaboration with USAID SACE hosted an event called; Office of the Citizen: Demo of the Office of the Citizen Portal. Here, EiE showcased three new apps developed to solve societal problems.
myVoice.com.ng is a tool that aggregates rants from Twitter to give an index of the pulse of citizens over a specific period of time. Power Dispute Advocates is another that aids electricity advocacy, while Med Police helps to report and follow up on cases around medical negligence. These three tools are winning apps from a series of hackathons organised by EiE.
“We need to do a better job of telling stories of how tech is being used as a tool to effect positive reform,” said Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director of EiE. Enough is Enough Nigeria is an NGO focused on promoting good governance via active citizen participation. They run the Office Of The Citizen (OOTC) campaign to educate Nigerians on the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
At the end of the session, panellists agreed that it is the right of the citizens to demand transparency and accountability from governance. The session was moderated by Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun and featured Tosin Abolaji of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria; Stanley Achonu, Operations Manager, BudgIT and Yemi Adamolekun, as panel discussants.
In another session hosted by the same organisations, public officials compared notes on the different methods they employ to factor technology into every facet of their operations and citizen engagement. Osita Okechukwu, DG, VON; Tom Obey, ICT Consultant at NEMA; Oyebanji Filani, Ministry of Health; Bankole Omishore, representing the Senate President Bukola Saraki, were panellists at ‘Technology as a Policy Imperative: Spotlight on Public Officials Who Leverage Technology.’
“If you don’t grow with technology you will be left behind. At VON we are constantly adopting the latest technologies to reach a wider audience more effectively. We recently launched a website that lets anyone become an eye-witness reporter,” shared Osita. Tom Obey said embracing technology has reduced operational costs, and increased operational efficiency. He said, “NEMA heavily leverages social media to engage with citizens via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. Lots of internal communication are done over Skype and Facebook as a way of instilling a new culture.” The agency is currently working on NEMA TV, a channel the agency plans to use to keep the public updated about its activities.
Bankole Omishore touched on technology tools currently being utilized by the Nigerian Senate to more effectively engage Nigerians. “The Nigerian Senate currently live-tweets and livestreams all plenary session. From April, they plan to commence the streaming of committee hearings. They are also currently working towards broadcasting plenary sessions on terrestrial and digital television.”
The governor of Kaduna state, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, in an auxillary session, admonished “online activists” to use social media responsibly and avoid making inflammatory statements that could lead to increased division, intolerance and even violence.
In an interview with Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun, he admitted that a good number of civil servants are in their 50s hence the reason for the slow adoption of tech in public administration. “Presently, of the 25,000 civil servants in Kaduna State, only 5,000 are ICT compliant. The solution is to inject more young people into the civil service space; something the Kaduna State government is currently doing” he said.
Mallam El-Rufai believes that technology is a tool for human progress and therefore a tool for governance. He also said, technology, innovation and digital media is the way to go for electoral reforms to happen.