Experts seek e-governance to check graft

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Information communication technology (ICT) experts have urged the adoption of electronic or e-government at all levels to prevent the stealing of public funds.

Speaking during a two-day E-Government Summit 2015 held in Abuja, the said government officials should not be allowed to deal with physical cash.

The conference, which ended yesterday and brought together experts from different sectors of the economy cutting across financial services, ICT, agriculture, among others, was organised by the E-Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN), in collaboration with the Financial Services Strategy (FSS) 2020 and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Speaking on the occasion, Anambra State Governor, Dr. Willie Obiano, said the adoption of e-government in Anambra, especially in the area of tax collection has raised the state’s Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) from less than N1 billion to its current N1.1 billion monthly with the ultimate objective to increase it  to N3 billion monthly.

“In Anambra, our aggressive pursuit of a vision and mission strategies through an efficient use of ICT has attracted an inflow of investment to the tune of N2.4 billion to Anambra State in the past one year.

“The whole idea is to use government machinery to channel private sector interest to the advantages of the citizens by making the environment conductive through efficient use of ICT to achieve this.”

Deputy Governor, Operations at CBN, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, said the introduction of electronic transaction policies by the apex bank was meant to ensure efficiency in financial transactions and curb financial corruption in the system.

He said while the federal government and its paratstatals have also embraced a number of ICT-related initiatives in recent past in their services, with resultant cost-saving and ability to plug the leakages in its financial dealings, “there is an urgent need to popularize wider and holistic embrace of e-government in its totality.”

He noted that with the passage of three major bills relating to electronic transactions in Nigeria by the sixth National Assembly, the coast is now clear for e-payment landscape in the country to exhibit increased sanity.

Head, Programme Office, FSS2020, Mr. Oluwatoyin Joko, said the collaboration with E-PPAN was considered critical as it allows FSS2020 Office to see how it can better re-organise the major markets of financial market, insurance, pension and mortgage and agriculture and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) using e-government as strategy.

“Beyond restructuring all these sectors, we also know that cases of financial corruptions, as we have been told to have witnessed in the last 10 years by Mr President where about $150 billion was said to have been stolen and taken outside the country, would be minimised,” he said.

E-PPAN President, Mr. Macaulay Atase, said the forum was organised to facilitate dialogue that would result in the evaluation of how the adoption of ICT tools into service delivery by the government at all levels could result in increased transparency, efficiency and accountability, especially in the area of financial management.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, said the ministry came up with a National E-Government Master Plan last year, which recommended strategies which government at all levels can implement to have a uniform e-government strategy that guarantees improved efficiency, transparency, convenience and lower cost of accessing services.

He emphasised that e-government helps to strengthen public institutions, encourages delivery of civic responsibilities and accelerate the growth of the nation’s economy.

“Currently, we are awaiting the approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC), when constituted by the president for a full-blast implementation of the National E-Government Master Plan 2020.”

Group Head, Customer Operations and Services at Galaxy Backbone, Mr. Frank Ugbodaga, said e-government relies on two basic principles of connectivity and government cloud which, he said, are driven by Galaxy Backbone.

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