Governance encompasses various decision-making and implementation processes by public institutions — managing resources, conducting public affairs and basically doing what is in the best interests of the governed while mediating differing interests to reach a wider consensus — all in ways that promote and align with the rule of law.
The Nigerian government is saddled with responsibilities towards citizens that it must fulfill as enshrined in the law.
These include but are not limited to:
- Maintaining law and order
- Protecting lives and properties
- Providing employment opportunities
- Providing social welfare services
- Promoting economic development
- Promoting democracy, social justice, and protecting human rights
- Maintaining external relations
Running the affairs of a nation can be quite tasking, mainly because of the expectations that must be fulfilled especially in a country as deeply rooted in institutional decay as Nigeria.
However, with the advent of technology, things are beginning to take a more positive and cohesive shape.
Technology is augmenting areas where the government is lacking.
As earlier highlighted, one of the duties of the government is protecting the lives of its citizens.
We had, in a previous post, discussed how technology can be leveraged to find missing persons.
In this post, we will be taking a look at other aspects where technology is being (and can be) used to promote good governance by helping the government meet its expectations.
Nigeria has one of the largest populations in Africa, with a significant number of them with no official proof of identity.
Technology can be used to make the identity registration process seamless especially at a time when the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is calling for citizens to register for and get their National Identification Number (NIN).
The government cannot deliver government subsidies, benefits, and services to citizens if it does not have their identities and the slow process of registration, which is mostly manual, is hindering these citizens from getting these benefits and services from the government.
As we all know, one of the duties of the government is providing public education.
Quality education is the foundation of skills development and technology is transforming the education sector through new approaches which is powered by machine learning, and open sources.
The government can leverage the widespread use of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) to monitor and improve the quality of public education.
LMSs are platforms that are managed by educational institutions to deliver personalized and effective learning techniques, tools and resources to students while monitoring their progress and enabling feedback.
The Nigerian healthcare system is in a sorry state.
Striking doctors, inadequate medical facilities, understaffed hospitals, etc. Little wonder the elite travel outside the country for medical services.
Technology has made it possible for people to access information, monitor progress, seek advice and make doctor appointments online.
The government can invest in e-Health service systems that allow citizens to schedule medical appointments in public health centers or government-owned hospitals without having to stand in line.
With the popularity of ride-hailing and ride-sharing services in Nigeria, we do not need to wait until automated vehicles arrive in megacities to see that technology is transforming transportation and urban development.
The government can adopt the same system for government-owned vehicles.
Also, it should collaborate with organizations that build traffic update apps that can alert citizens when there is traffic in certain areas and suggest alternate routes just like Google Maps.
This will reduce travel time of vehicles.
The hard fact in Nigeria is, though the government is well aware of its duties towards citizens, it sometimes falls short of expectations.
Technology can be used to monitor the activities and projects being carried out by the government and there are organizations that are leveraging the power technology wields to keep the government on its toes.
One of them is BudgIT, a civic-tech not-for-profit organization that is leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in public finance through creative and easy-to-understand data using technology.
It also runs Tracka, a platform that uses technology to track public projects and budget implementation.
Another example is Shine Your Eye which is an initiative of Enough is Enough Nigeria. It helps citizens find and connect with the elected officials that represent them at all tiers of government — federal, state and local government.
This will enable citizens to relay their communal concerns directly to their leaders with the aim of getting a swift response.
The platform also allows citizens to search for their polling units thereby making it easier for them to vote during elections.
We’ve seen protests unravel before our very eyes on social media platforms.
Citizens have protested against bad policies, lack of basic amenities and injustice.
In fact, there are cases when bad policies were reversed and actions taken by the government to resolve certain issues due to public outrage on the internet.
In addition, the government has kept relations with its foreign counterparts and has benefitted from such relations, thanks to technology.
An example was when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The Nigerian government was able to monitor the activities of other nations — how they were managing the spread, protocols, lockdown measures, etc. — and mapped out its own containment plan. A government ministry even solicited ventilators from Elon Musk when the pandemic hit the nation.
The Nigerian government should see technology as a means to an end.
For it to effectively carry out its duties, the government should incorporate technology into its affairs and collaborate with institutions that are solving problems using technology.
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