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By Magnus Eze
The rich culture of the Binis of Edo State recently dominated the atmosphere at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, venue of an upscale event staged by Edo Jacobs, a native of Benin, to showcase some milestones in the field of Information Communication Technology (ICT).
It was the Abuja unveiling of a book titled: “Digital transformation: Evolving a digitally enabled Nigerian public service” written by Jacobs, a telecommunication and internet technology expert with lots of experience in business transformation, who works as ERP System Coordinator at the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Vienna, Austria.
What would have passed like an ordinary book presentation was, however, transformed by the presence of His Royal Majesty, Ewuare N’Ogidigan, Oba Ewaure II (Oba of Benin).
According to the author, the monarch put a touch of ‘magic’ on the occasion by delegating two Benin high chiefs; Obadolaye of Benin, Chief Victor Osa Uzamere and Obarenogae of Benin, Chief Osarogiabon Monosa, to grace it.
Decked in sparkling white apparels, the two ranking Benin chiefs brought royal flair to the entire vicinity as they carried themselves with royalty throughout the duration of the programme.
Daily Sun was told that the Oba of Benin had dispatched the emissaries to the Abuja event as a mark of honour to one of his own who has made his people proud in his chosen profession.
In fact, the Oba was said to have also showered more blessings on the author when he later hosted him in the palace with the full compliments of the chiefs of the great Benin Kingdom.
Oba Ewaure II expressed delight in Jacobs’ effort at deploying digital transformation as the best way for Nigeria to overcome the high rate of youth unemployment, combat poverty, eliminate opportunities for financial leakages and to increase the standard of living.
The book targeted at policy makers in government agencies, especially in education, health and social services was reviewed by Prof. Joy Omoavowere Emagbetere, while an investment expert, Ajibade Yusuf also made an incisive presentation on financing digital transformation in government and private sector.
Another presenter, Larry Chris Bates further explored the blockchain technology field as it relates to land titles at the programme.
According to the reviewer, the book provides a methodological background that will be used to start the national digital transformation programme.
“It will serve as a long-term solution reference that could be relevant at all stages of the transformation process. It will also empower the government with the knowledge and tools required to provide sustainable long-term solutions for and to the benefit of the people.”
She noted that the successful implementation of digital transformation in Nigerian public service would enhance the efficiency of service delivery to global standard, enabling economic growth and innovations, reduction in corruption and operation cost, increased accountability and bring the government closer to the people.
Prof. Emagbetere, therefore, recommended a strategic implementation of the key areas of strength of the book to all MDAs to conceive the ideas and concepts to kick-start digital transformation in their various institutions.
Jacobs called for government investment in digital transformation beginning with building of fibre optics rings around the country to facilitate the ease of doing business and boost national security.
He lamented that more than 16 government agencies were presently collecting unsynchronised biometrics gulping over $2 billion annually, and called for shared infrastructure on biometrics.
According to him, there was no need for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and others to be collecting biometrics that could be centralised and coordinated by one agency and made available even to the private sector.
“The issue of fibre optics is very key and painfully, the government has left this in the hands of the private sector. The government needs to strategically put a fibre ring or two around the country that people can tap from; such that it will also facilitate the services of the telecom companies,” Edo stated.
The author posited that a digitised public service would cut cost, provide accurate data, increase efficiency and productivity among other advantages, by eliminating duplication and multiplication of government policies.
He blamed low penetration of e-commerce in the country on lack of data on people, saying “the main challenge e-commerce is having today is because there’s no data on people; no addresses. We don’t even know who is a Nigerian and who is not.”