ICT Can Transform the Future of Elections in Nigeria, Says Expert
Putting in place relevant Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure for the application of adaptable technology in electoral process will go a long way to ensure transparency and credibility of elections in Nigeria, an ICT expert, Professor Adesola Aderounmu, has declared.
Professor Aderounmu, who is the President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), made this declaration on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at the opening session of the 5th Covenant University Conference on E-Governance in Nigeria (CUCEN), where he gave a keynote address titled, ‘The Future of Elections in Nigeria: Leveraging ICT Infrastructure for Sustainable National Electoral Process’.
Speaking at the conference with the theme, ‘E-Government for National Democratic Consolidation and Transformation: Agenda Setting for the 2019 General Elections and Transparency in Governance’, Professor Aderounmu said that Nigeria and indeed Sub-Saharan Africa must distinguish elections as the best opportunity to encourage political leaders to promote innovation in the polity. Using ICT to elect credible leaders, he stated, could motivate successful and satisfied politicians to encourage emerging governments to adapt the innovations to mainstream development and governance.
“It is a welcome development that the leveraging of technology had started, even if rudimentary, with the last 2015 elections that ushered in the present administration in Nigeria, but there is still a long way to go,” said the NCS President.
While highlighting the areas where ICT tools and applications could transform future electoral processes and elections in Nigeria, Professor Aderounmu, who is the Director, Information Technology and Communications Unit, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, mentioned sensitisation, civic education and e-inclusion, political campaigns, constituency delimitation, voter registration and data capture, voter verification and voting, vote counting and computation, and result dissemination.
In his recommendations, the Keynote Speaker urged the Federal Government to urgently push for broadband access all over the country through the Public Private Partnership models; the development of a robust sustainability model; investment in high quality IT manpower development; the establishment of IT Parks and Digital Centres across the country; and the embracement of a unified database for Nigeria. If the government demonstrates the political will, Nigeria, he assured, would catch up with the rest of the world’s advanced democracies with the adoption of ICT tools in securing electoral process integrity and deepening a truly democratic culture.
Earlier, while declaring CUCEN 2018 open, the Chancellor and Chairman Board of Regents, Covenant University, Dr. David O. Oyedepo, represented by Pastor Adeniyi Beecroft, pointed out that Nigeria had the potentials to flourish in every sector of the economy and truly manifest as the giant of Africa but for leadership inadequacies. He added that the 2019 general elections would offer Nigerians a golden opportunity to effect a change across the various echelons of leadership.
He posited that what was needed in the country after several decades of independence was to elect a transformative, vibrant, detribalised, and transparent leader; a leader with the capacity to harness the abundant resources of the country to engender true human and economic development.
Dr. Oyedepo admonished participants at the conference and the voting populace in Nigeria to make ideology-based manifesto the yardstick for a choice candidate, with emphasis on the institutionalisation of good governance.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor AAA. Atayero, noted that public investment in information and communication technologies (ICTs) was mandatory if the principles of effective governance enunciated by the United Nations Public Administration Programme were to be realised. These, he said, were efficiency in delivering public services, citizens’ participation and engagement in government businesses, as well as access to information and transparency in government affairs.
He averred that greater use of information and communication technology in governance could intensify transparency in governance, citizen’s participation, and consolidation of Nigeria’s democratic process to foster national transformation, characterised by improved efficiency in the delivery of public services to Nigerians, convenient and faster access to government services, as well as responsive governance.
While explaining the motive behind the e-governance conference, the Director, Covenant University Centre for E-Business and E-Government Research, Professor Charles Ayo, said that it addresses specifically topical issues in the polity. The centre, according to him, provides support to governments and business communities in the developing nations with relevant IT tools for effective transformation of the economies.
Special Guest Speakers at the conference included the Executive Director (Business Development) Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) Plc, Mr. Niyi Ajao; the Director, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr. Ali Pantami, represented by Mr. Lukman Lamid; and the Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Dambatta, represented by Dr. Henry Nkemadu.
Also at the event were the Registrar, Covenant University, Dr. Olumuyiwa Oludayo; Chaplain, Pastor Promise Omidiora; Deans of the various Colleges; faculty and staff; and participants from government establishments and business organisations.