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Improving service delivery through e-governance

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EVERYWHERE in the world, government has the responsibility of providing welfare services and protecting the lives of those it governs which constitute part of government functions.

Again, the freedom and right of the citizens to speak and communicate, has to be maintained for effective democracy and to be achieved especially in Nigeria where federalism is practiced.

Unfortunately, these means of having direct communication to the government of the day by the masses in order to make inputs and receive accurate feedback in policy formulation has remained a far cry.

For this reason, many governments have introduced some public sector reforms which are yet to bring the expected changes in government businesses and relationship with the masses.

During the interview, Prof B.C. Nwankwo, Dean of Mgt Dept, Kogi State disclosed that today in Nigeria, there is practically no public sector organisation that has not undergone one form of reform or the other.

Similarly, following the introduction of modern technology worldwide, there is practically no sector or segment of the society where the influence of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has not penetrated.

In this new age (the information age) where multitude of transactions are completed with utmost efficiency brought through by the use of the Internet or the world wide web, no organisation can afford to be behind in upgrading its mode of conducting business to incorporate the use of ICT.

Any organisation that intends to continue keeping afloat and progress in its operations must join the bandwagon in the new age of ICT.  Businesses and organisations that fail to continuously apply the latest ICT may not be able to contend with the ever competitive business world.

In an interview, Prof. B.C. Nwankwo observed that most of the reforms that have swept through the public sector in Nigeria include liberalization, deregulation, downsising, right sizing, commercialization, monetisation, privatization, among others. “These reforms are geared towards blurring the line of differences between the public and business alike.

Despite this, public service delivery and accountability are still a far cry.  In making the Public service efficient, flexible, profitable and competitive, many countries have embraced e-government in their activities.

The application of the Internet, Web and telecommunications services in the administration of public service is referred to as e-governance or electronic governance.

The objective of this is therefore to examine the challenges and prospects of implementing e-governance in Nigeria for service delivery.

“The reasons for adoption of e-governance are the provision and delivery of public goods and services.

Through governments, the world over, adopt e-governance for various reasons, the general conception is to ensure that utmost efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency are achieved in the interactions between government and citizens or its other clients.

“As today’s world has become a flux, a continuously changing environment, government agencies cannot afford to lag behind in the old ways of communicating and interacting.

Therefore, continuous reforms, especially in improving the Information management system in government becomes a necessity for making the process achieve a higher degree of transparency and accountability.

“The need to keep abreast with the ever-dynamic environment of communication and information  systems is the sole reason why government agencies, at all levels, integrate various mode of ICTs in their activities.

The essence of the continuous improvement in Information Communication Technologies is to come up with more cost  effective and efficient ways of transmitting and disseminating information and adopting ICT in governance provides the framework for cost reduction in the provision of information and services to the public.”

E-Governance can be referred to as the application of information communication technology by the government to enhance accountability, create awareness and ensure transparency in the management of government business.

It is a political strategy through which the activities of government are made known through adoption of modern communication technology.

Dr. Paul Ugbaja, an information communication technologist, defined electronic governance as the application technology by government to transform itself and its interactions with customers, in order to create an impact on the society.

E-governance is the use of information technologies (such as the Internet, the World Wide Web, and mobile computing) by government agencies that transform their relationship with citizens, business, different areas of government and other governments.

This definition focuses on the four main dimensions of service delivery in e-governance which includes:

Government to Citizen – the involvement and relationship that exist among the government and its citizen.  It aims at having people’s opinion and contribution in policy decision making process.

Government to Business – This aims to facilitate and enhance the capability of business transactions between the government and the private sector by improving communications and connectivity between the two parties.

Government to Government – This is an inter-governmental effort that aims to improve communication and effectiveness of services between federal, state and local government in the running of day to day administration. It generally aims at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of overall government operations.

Intra-government – Aims to leverage ICT to reduce cost and improve the quality of administration and management within government organisation.

E-government is used by government agencies of information technologies such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet and mobile computing that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses and other arms of government.

These technologies can serve a variety of different ends:  better delivery of government of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management.

The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth or cost reductions.

The common theme behind these definitions is that e-government involves the automation or computerization of existing  procedures that will prompt new styles of leadership, new ways of debating and deciding  strategies, new ways of transacting business, new ways of listening to citizens and communities and new ways of organizing and delivering information.

Ultimately, e-governance aims to enhance access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens. More importantly, it aims to help strengthen government’s drive toward effective governance and increased transparency to better manage a country’s social and economic resources for development.

The e-governance implementation in Nigeria varies from level to level of government, as well as agency to agency. There was actually an attempt at providing a unified, national framework of ICT adoption in governance.  The Federal Government of Nigeria, in 2001, announced ICT as a policy of national importance.

This further culminated in the creation of a policy on information technology in the same year.  Some states, ministries, organizations are not in line with the Information Communication Technology because of the large money involved and poor service in the country.

 

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