It is known that we are in the Information Age, where information became handy through publications, computers and computer networks. The Internet, a worldwide network of computers using certain protocols is a major factor in the Information Age. The Internet articulates all kinds of information; this is usually accessible and available to people anywhere in the world so long connection to the network exist. Usually, access to the information and services over the internet is provided via web pages, a collection of web pages are available via hyperlinks or simply websites.
Information Technology (IT) has been useful for solutions, products, services, and information in this 21st Century. Around the world, IT is diversified to enhance solutions. Contemporary IT experts work to keep IT solutions simple for all users to relate with.
Information Technology (IT) has been instrumental for solutions by the Government of Nigeria (GON); this has come in different forms; websites, software and hardware are part of IT solutions the GON use for effective Governance. For now, Nigeria cannot compare herself to the west in terms of IT development and use because most IT solutions originate there; however, IT is making impact in different sector of Nigeria economy. Some people may suggest IT solutions for other part of Government works; interesting as it will appear it may not be workable as things stand.
There is growth in the IT industry in Nigeria with hundreds of organizations having IT as their business line; The Federal Government, some ministries, agencies and State Government have official website. Such website puts the Government on the web; news, article and multimedia are available from such website, this has been useful in some ways to the people of Nigeria and foreigners, much more than this can be achieved from here.
There are tens of things the GON can do with IT solutions in Nigeria for better governance. These should be feasible, accessible and sustainable. This paper presents suggestions for three tiers of Government in Nigeria and what they can do with IT for their people and communities. Use of IT for better governance for Local Government, State Government and The Federal Government will be discussed here.
Local Government Offices (LGO) as the closet Government to the people should have IT solutions that will enhance relations between the people and their Government. Web applications as directory and information or report portal for the people should be available by LGO; this development may take some years as advancement to existing IT solutions.
What LGO really need to have is a detailed and interactive website, this will serve as the official online page of the Local Government (LG), it will also serve as information source of the LG and as the medium for Government people interaction. Many people do not visit LGO and really don’t know what that Government means to them, some others for any other reason visit LGO; due to a very active State or Federal Government less attention is given to LG. Having a website as suggested here will see that LG play at least a role in the lives of people in that locality or anyone that has something to do with that vicinity.
The website will be the name of the LG.gov.ng or LG.com.ng will be targeted to be useful first for the immediate community before others, all the information projected for the website may not be available at startup but will be continuously updated. First information about the LG is provided, from beginning till present; completed, ongoing and future projects; important places in the LG as stadium, national centers, etc; addresses and links (if available) to businesses, hospitals, schools, offices, etc; Map of the Local Government Area (LGA) for direction and navigation; list of LG officials, their offices and contacts; a forum where people can relate their concerns to the LG, people post challenges, others can support that it exist, suggestions and recommendations towards this and others can be made in the forum, respective LG officials will respond and note them to be carried out or referred to the higher Government responsible for this.
This is a summary of what a typical LG website in Nigeria should be, informative and interactive. There are top LG amongst the 774 LG in Nigeria; these ones may lead others in having an official website. There are solutions these websites will provide when available and there are disadvantages abounding from not having a LG official website. The website will bring the people close to their ‘neighborhood’ Government; LGO will provide solutions for people and places involved with that vicinity; a responsive LGO, a progressive nation.
Official website is not uncommon with most State Government (SG) in Nigeria, as their official portal online; it provides information about the state, the Government, the officials and investor information.These has been successful in certain ways as some SG ensure certain opportunity is harnessed from their website before ensuing paper works for those concerned.
Improvements can be made on these websites to provide specific solutions for people within the state. One first step towards this is letting people know that the website exist and interesting information available on it to serve as the reason people should visit. Letting people know involves reference to the website in matters said of the state in the press.
The website should constantly be uploaded by the web administrator with information regarding the state and also give the populace chance to upload their business and works relevant to the state on the website. Educative and Informative content of the website should be increased; the website should provide information on state government offices, their working hours, their specialties and contacts of some of the officials (for complaint, remarks, etc)
The website of a state Government for example should let me know about a state-owned tertiary clinic, their specialty, working hours and how I can reach their front desk for comments, further enquiries or remarks. The website should also provide recent and old information about the state, the founding fathers, certain timeline and recent achievements. It should contain records achieved within the state by individuals or organizations; some native of the state that made national or international mark should also be stated.
The website should assist in educating people about some decisions of the government or the parliament and why it was taken. The website should also state the functions of the government; places, works and road under her supervision, this enable certain people know which is to the Federal Government. The website should have a forum where people lay their hearts to the Government, respective Government office or ministry is expected to respond to this. Tags as LG or agency is provided to specify where comments fall, this will aid response and possible action if the comment is well supported or convincingly stated.
Web and wap applications should follow for future IT development for states.
The Federal Government (FG) is big and central, IT suggestions if provided in a paper as this is diminutive compared to how much the FG can harness IT for good governance. Most FG Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) have official website, this has been instrumental to their works and achievements.
This paper suggest further how well the FG should develop existing IT applications; FG has an official portal online www.nigeria.gov.ng the website goodly designed principally gives information about the GON and officials. It should be the first information link before any other website is visited to know about Nigeria. Links to SG and LG websites should be provided, links to MDA websites should be provided, complete information on the country, the economy, tourism, achievement and many more should be provided. The website should also give Government stance in matters relating to charged Nigerians in Diaspora.
GON should build so much on IT to allow all arms of Government at all levels be within reach, this will further serve as effort for good governance. MDA need to have their website interactive and continuously updated with news and ongoing projects. The Federal Ministry of Health may work towards achieving doctor online this year for internet users whose protocol address show they are within Nigeria. This form of Medical assistance is expected to be instant in future but should be responsive at first with email response within 24hrs. For light ailments, advice and drug prescription will be given; referral to specialist clinics on certain ailments will also be available.
Ministry Of Education should have some parts of state education curriculum for both primary and secondary levels; they should also have ‘how to pass’ tips for all general exams (NABTEB, NECO, JAMB) and respective curriculum. The Ministry of Education should have studies online for the three major languages in Nigeria and report national competition involving schools on their website. The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology can use IT to boost and promote Research and Development in Nigeria; The Federal Ministry of Environment can use IT for quick response to action with issues concerning the environment; The Federal Ministry of Finance can break down the budget for better understanding with charts, graphs and texts; The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs can provide free counseling services for women and also educate them on how to live a sustained life in this environment (psychology research will help here). There are some ministries not mentioned here and many much solutions IT can provide when used effectively.
The Upper and Lower houses should ensure that contacts of various committees is available for Nigerians to reach them for comments. A good research for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Nigeria should reach the Committee on Environment for assessment with few clicks on a computer. www.nigeriajudiciary.org is a website to provide impressive information; some lawyers will be ready to volunteer to answer questions on different parts of the law for free when asked by people whose knowledge of law is lame. Such service should also be available by the website, Mobile and web application for the Nigerian law should be available to educate people and to help caution first time visitors to the Country.
The power of Information Technology can be harnessed for better governance in Nigeria. The GON should please do more to ensure that service provided to the people through IT is increased and to help some people see that their Government is applicably available on the same medium they use for their business, socials and information.
David Stephen writes science articles from Surulere, Lagos.
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Kwt Orumba, Nigeria April 16, 2011
Nice research and suggestion, nice website and good twitter posts, Young man youths like you embrace technology, some directed at development for election and others purely socials, middle-aged and aging Nigeria leaders are somewhat oblivious about technology use.
Lets hope the coming Government see this and follow, keep up the works.
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