The public service is critical in promoting sustainable and equitable social and economic growth. It’s administrative ‘capacity’ is a key factor in effective implementation and communication of government’s policies and programs, but what happens when that ‘capacity’ is highly lacking?
Blaise Oboh, founder, Orodata Science Nigeria, shares insights on governance and Nigeria’s digital future from a session he facilitated Read full article below.
In Nigeria, if one took to the streets to engage citizens on their opinions of the government and its current activities, majority of the response will sound something like’ “government is useless”, “government is not working”, “government is not doing anything”, “the public service is our problem”. But I always ask these questions whenever I hear such comments- “who is government”? “Is the government not made up of people”?
Since founding Orodata and engaging government in our quest to create solutions, find and democratize data, I have come to understand that the issue is much deeper than what many realize. That is, the government is the people, and government can only act better when the people do.
All over the world, digitally enabled governments are transforming the way they work, organize, and engage with citizens. Authorities are formulating policies, making promises, crafting strategies to enhance and transform public service delivery to meet the needs and expectations of the citizens.
However, in recent time in Nigeria, with the myriad of issues and a perception that government is sleeping more than working, the government in many ways has set the ball rolling to join the digital marathon. One of such ways is a Government Reform Workshop I attended in Abuja last month themed “Improving Government Communication and Engaging Citizens “.
The 4-day training and workshop program put together by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in support of the European Union trained and equipped over 80 residents and Communication Officers in government MDAs. The workshop focused primarily on interpreting and communicating government policies efficiently and effectively, particularly in situations of unrest.
As a facilitator, the approach I employed was first to sensitize the information officers on ‘The Role of Information Communication Technology (ICT)’ in promoting good governance in order to concisely illustrate how ICT is crucial in fostering national competitiveness in the context of a rapidly changing world and global economy. Then came the introduction of the concept of ‘Data Socialization’, how strong ICT capacity can make a difference in the field of governance and the use of infographics in addressing societal challenges; from crime rates, agriculture and employment to epidemics.
Transformation and reform is a tedious but a continuous process. Although these officers are not likely to master the communication techniques instantaneously, much is expected of them, especially in the continued employment of the knowledge garnered at the training until it is mastered.
For these individuals, the workshop served as an introduction to the building blocks of knowledge towards a digital economy where better tools and processes are employed continuously to make public officers work effectively while delivering citizen focused goods, services and information on a real-time basis, at the right time and to the right target audience.
As technology and digitalization rapidly advances, so does the clamor for good governance and transparency. Good communication capacity and strategies reinforce accountability and transparency, reduces hurdles, challenges and reshapes the relationship between the citizen and government, hence empowering the citizen to hold government more accountable.
Read more: Why I started a data company
Blaise is a 2016/2017 SIP Fellow. Learn more about LEAP Africa.