Gov. Willy Obiano Addresses The E-Governance Summit 2015

Text of the Keynote Address Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie M. Obiano at the E- Government Summit 2015 Organised by EPPAN/CBN on Tuesday July 28, 2015 at the Shehu Musa Yar’dua Centre, Abuja. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the world we live in today is changing every day. 20 years from now, the world our children will live in is better left to the imagination. ICT has changed everything and is bound to change everything in a more dramatic and profound way. The impact of ICT on world civilization is so rapid and so compelling that it is now futile to imagine any form of change without technology. Full text Below

His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President & Commander in Chief, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

Your Excellencies, State Governors here present
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria
Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria
Distinguished Senators here present
Top officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria
e-Government and e-Payment professionals
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning and a very warm welcome to you all. I am delighted to be a part of the opening ceremony of this year’s e-Government Summit. More importantly, I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to share our experience in the use of ICT to drive the complex process of governance in Anambra State.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world we live in today is changing every day. 20 years from now, the world our children will live in is better left to the imagination. ICT has changed everything and is bound to change everything in a more dramatic and profound way. The impact of ICT on world civilization is so rapid and so compelling that it is now futile to imagine any form of change without technology. All over the world today, almost everyone now carries one form of ICT device or the other from place to place. In spite of this, Analysts even envisage a higher dependence on ICT in the future.

The Anambra Scenario
Anambra State occupies a special position in Nigeria as one of the most forward-looking states. We pride ourselves as the home of innovation and indigenous technology in West Africa. That is part of the reason why our motto is “Light of the Nation.” Anambra has a thriving auto spare parts industry in Nnewi that has defied Nigeria’s harsh economic environment over the years.
Today, Nnewi is the home of Nigeria’s first indigenous auto-manufacturing plant. My brother, Chief Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Limited gave us this extra-ordinary advantage. Besides Innoson, there are many other innovative minds that are driving technological changes in Anambra State.

In view of this fact and in appreciation of Anambra’s many other comparative advantages, my administration decided to be very organized in our approach to governance. Borrowing from my private sector experience, we started by outlining our VISION and MISSION for the state. Accordingly, we said that our VISION is to make Anambra State the 1st choice investment destination and the most preferred location to site new industries. We also committed to the MISSION of creating a socially stable, business-friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in Anambra State. These are the basic philosophies that have driven us from inauguration.

Driven by these basic philosophies, we rolled out an economic blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development, namely – Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Industrialization and Oil and Gas. These are the levers through which all our efforts to develop Anambra State are routed to achieve our set objectives. In addition, we also have a blueprint on ICT and e-government that we developed in my first 100 Days in office. The beauty of having a clearly defined approach to governance is that everything easily falls in line. It helps to set up a clear process. ICT solutions work better where there is a clear process. In fact, it is inconceivable to implement a successful e-government without a robust process in place.
At this juncture, it may be instructive to point out that our stringent implementation of our clear vision and mission and strict adherence to process-driven, ICT-powered practices in governance has been roundly acknowledged. In fact, in March this year, the Federation Accounts Sub-Committee on International Public Sector Accounting System (IPSAS) ranked Anambra as the highest in Transparency in governance. The Survey reviewed the Initiation, Activation and IT Support of states which involves proper procurement procedures and the adoption of the accounting software as well as GO-Live which means deployment readiness, budget conversion, data migration and IPSAS-compliant book-keeping. Anambra became IPSAS-compliant when we adopted the set standards and set up the proper IT backbone to power our processes.

Indeed, Anambra State has benefitted enormously from a structured process and an efficient use of ICT in our drive for increased revenue. The re-organization of our processes and a determined use of technology have helped us to increase our monthly Internally Generated Revenue from half a billion naira to about N1.1bn at the moment. Our plan is to hit the N3 bn mark. Our experience in Anambra is by no means peculiar. All other states that successfully revved up their IGR inflows refer to technology as a key success factor. Similarly, we have also used ICT to fight crime and criminals in Anambra State, provide a dependable security network and manage the large workforce of the state by building a comprehensive data bank. In fact, without the support of ICT, Anambra’s famed record in crime fighting would have been impossible.

In Anambra State, we are already looking beyond the present. We have set our sights on the future. That is why the State Ministry of Education has embarked on a revolutionary Laptop Acquisition Scheme for teachers that will ensure that every teacher in Anambra State owns a laptop. The scheme comes with a 9-month training package that will inculcate crucial computing skills in our teachers. These teachers will in turn impart these skills on the pupils and students, thereby preparing them to compete in a world that is essentially driven by fast-paced development in information technology. That is how serious we take e-government in Anambra State. It is gradually permeating every aspect of our lives, including the educational sector. In doing this, we are often reminded of the words of the iconic African American civil rights leader, Malcom X who said that “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

My Advice
With your kind permission, I will proceed to distill from our experience in Anambra what might constitute the immediate priorities in e-Government –
Given the drop on federally allocated revenues, states should invest in a robust ICT infrastructure that will boost their IGR collection in all areas. This should also be the model for the federal government through the Ministry of Finance and other relevant agencies.
States should partner with the private sector to device the means of building shared platforms, in order to bring down the cost and inject maximum efficiency.
States should embark on aggressive deployment of cheap but revolutionary ICT solutions like hotspots, laptops and other applications across towns, markets, hospitals, schools and eventually villages to ensure a smooth take – off of ICT.
Evolve a robust ICT policy that will encourage the discovery and development of local talents and the inculcation of ICT skills in our youth. At the moment, we are testing the waters in this regards with the Technology Incubation Center in Nnewi. We are simply cashing in on the advantage of Nnewi which is a well-known hub for technological innovation and manufacturing.

Indeed our use of ICT in Anambra State is so diverse that an attempt to recount them here would be unwise. Nevertheless, it might be necessary that its effective use has greatly improved our data bank management and launched a potent offensive against ghost workers through the issuance of ID cards. Through that, enormous leakages have been sealed in the State Civil Service. We have also effectively instilled prudent land management through the conduct of geospatial surveys (GIS). Over the next few months, we will have a fully functional and well populated database complete with a dynamic one-stop-shop service portal to drive our governance and economic programme.

Likely Challenges
The likely challenges to a smooth take – off of e-government in most parts of Nigeria are many and varied. The most prominent however, seems to be the presence of vested interests. Some elements within and outside government have always made frantic efforts to resist change and scuttle some best laid out plans. The reasons for this range from lack of skills and motivation to learn; focus on benefitting from the lack of transparency which ICT brings to bear on governance and plain lack of understanding of what ICT is about. So successful e- government programmes must mitigate against this challenge.

In conclusion, I urge all practitioners to continue to educate our leaders and innovate around the use of ICT to achieve their visions. In Anambra, our aggressive pursuit of our Vision and Mission Statements through an efficient use of ICT has attracted an inflow of investments to the tune of N2.4bn to Anambra State in the past one year. The whole idea is to use government machinery to channel private sector interests to the advantage of the citizens by making the environment conducive for investment. Our success in this quest has been very glaring, but we are hopeful of improving on our best performance. I wish to invite everyone here to Anambra State to witness the on-going change and take a stab at the promising investment climate that we have entrenched. I will ensure that those of you who are ready to come now enjoy the first mover advantage.
It is on this note that I hereby declare the 2015 e-PPAN/CBN organized e-Government Summit open and wish you all a successful event.
Thank you and God bless!