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Montag, 22.04.2019
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

May I start with a confession? Last week’s piece was supposed to be a single part only, and was designed to share my thoughts on the elections. I planned to move to something else, based on my content calendar. The turn of events, however, quickly made me change my mind because it was unbearable for me, like most Nigerians, that the electoral umpire shifted the elections while most of us slept.

I was visibly angry at first because I had to change location, in order to be able to vote and secondly, this is the era of technology. Besides nepotism, selfishness and lack of vision, there is simply no reason why Nigeria should not be moving forward technologically. As a stakeholder in the technology ecosystem, it is my opinion that, we have crawled in these last few years.

The minister who stepped into the shoes of the erstwhile Minister of Communications and Technology, Omobola Johnson, simply could not buckle up and as such, technology has taken a back seat in our nation today, as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to state all I know but we have indeed gone from high to low when it comes to technology in the last four years. Yes, we pay lip service to what we will do, but yet, not much to show for it. My hope is that after May 2019, the individual that will be appointed to head such an important ministry, will be selected based on competence and commitment, to the growth of the industry.

I say this because I firmly believe that if the ICT ministry is working in the right direction, it will rob off on the government in general, as well as its agencies. Interestingly, the topic of last week’s column generated a healthy debate in various forums, which further made it expedient for a part two. In last week’s piece, I had hoped that all would go well on Saturday, February 16, 2019 and wrote, based on on that belief.

As of the preceding Friday when I submitted my piece for publishing, all seemed well, with nothing to give an inkling that the election will be postponed.

In the quest to find out from industry leaders what can be done different I reached out to few of them. According to the Africa Chair for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers , World Internet of Things (WIoT), Chris Uwaje, “the probability of the smoothness of a digital electioneering process depends on many factors, based on the model adopted in many countries. The card reader is just about 15 to 18 per cent of the process. For example, since the INEC upgraded card reader to a smart digital device, it means that it requires abundant broadband transmission bandwidth interface to deliver effectively, but basd on available records, our National Broadband penetration is about 30 per cent , which means that the whole country is not covered and other means would be required to augment the deficit. If local content solutions have demonstrated maturity in f intech and Treasury Single Account deliverables, clustering, empowering IT professionals and digital solution providers, the same success story can be achieved in digital election processes, e-government, e-education, e-health, digital security and in the oil and gas sectors, where they are currently absent. There is an urgent need to build huge and responsive ICT innovation capacities and capabilities for sustainable development.”

In last week’s column, I clearly stated that I don’t think Nigeria is ready for an electronic voting anytime soon based on our slow pace of infrastructural development. However, with recent developments , I think we have no choice but to begin planning for this. The fact that there are 91 political parties to date and thousands of candidates running for political offices makes the process a nightmare for INEC and makes us appear like a country of jokers, if we want to run such a huge process without technology powering more of it including voting. It is clearly impossible to achieve so much without adequately deploying technology to simplify the whole process.

An Lagos-based IT expert, George Ejere, reached out with this statement, after reading ‘Technology and Future Elections’; “ In view of the sudden and unexpected postponement of the general elections that was scheduled to take place across the country on the February 16, 2019, maybe it is time for INEC and the Nigerian government to consider implementing a biometrics based e-voting system, that will remove the need for paper-based voting materials and ensure that electoral manipulations and rigging is reduced to the barest minimum. To make this more effective and unique, each voter’s biometric data can be tied to his/her bank verification number, (BVN) , especially telco registration database. (There are about 172 million registered mobile subscribers in Nigeria , according to the Nigerian Communications Commission). The electronic card readers are already in place to capture the unique biometrics (fingerprints) of voters. Blockchain technology can also be added to the mix, to ensure, even, higher integrity and security of voter data. It is time to take voting to the next level in Nigeria. Things cannot continue like this going into 2023 , the peak of the digital automation era. Technology is meant to make life easier and more convenient for all.”

This, in my opinion, will be a good start, but since it is not every Nigerian that operates bank accounts or use mobile phones, I think the National ID card might do a better job in this regard. A fast and simpler way of issuing the National ID to the populace will be a welcome development.

It is pertinent to end this piece with an excerpt from last week, “….in as much as I have my reservations for politics, politicians and governance in general, I still go out on election day to exercise my civic responsibility and I have been doing so, since 1999, when we started the current democratic dispensation. In a few cases, my candidates lose, but I am still somewhat happy, knowing that I voted for those I believed would best move our country forward .”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. (CFA)

Quelle/Source: The Punch, 24.02.2019

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