By Emma Okonji
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has reiterated the need for concerted efforts by stakeholders in information management sphere to improve data management, and enhance the quality, in order to boost decision making among Nigerians.
The minister, who made the call in Lagos recently while delivering a speech at this year’s Institute of Information Management (IIM-Africa) annual lecture, said every decision, policy or programme administered by the government, uses information, insisting that proper information management in government circle is key.
Represented by an Assistant Director from the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mr. Ralph Anyacho, the minister focused his speech on the theme: “Proper Information Management as Basis for Promoting Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance in Nigeria.” He reckoned with the view that effective information management forms the bedrock for achieving President MuhammaduBuhari’s administration ‘Change Mantra’.
While extolling IIM-Africa’s perseverance in the pursuance of information management sectorial development, he admitted that the information that underpins government administration must be adequate, complete, discovered, accessible and usable.
He added that a key aspect of information management designed to bring about transparency, accountability, efficiency and good governance is e-Governance.
“Automation helps to strengthen government’s drive towards effective governance and increased transparency for better management of resources, for growth and development. Government is leveraging broadband to provide online service portals where citizens will receive information and interact with public service administration,” Mohammed said.
He added: “Broadband holds the potential to move government processes online, increasing the speed of service delivery, improve transparency and accountability, reduce arbitrariness, impropriety and promote cooperation across departments at different levels of government.”
The President and Chairman of the Council, Institute of Information Management (IIM), Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, said: “We have continued in our zeal to ensure that the Information Management profession is accorded the right respect and position in the society, through the various initiatives over the years.”
According to Oyewole, the federal government today is faced with massive amounts of data that they must process, harmonised and integrated in order to meet mission requirements and deliver relevant, consistent, and current information to other government entities and the constituents they serve.
“Accountable governance, the fight against corruption, and improved service delivery depend upon the availability of good quality information about decisions and actions. Poor quality data, information and records will lead to missed opportunities to maximise the full value of publicly funded projects and programs,” Oyewole said.
He explained that the recent drive by the present administration to fight corruption, promote transparency and good governance could only be successful if government has unhindered access to quality information. It is obvious from recent happenings in government that Nigeria as a nation is yet to have full control over the records and information being generated, used and transmitted by the government, as government struggle to manage their public records in accordance with international good practice standards. Most often, basic records and information management controls are not in place.
“Without these controls, records are likely to be incomplete, difficult to locate and authenticated. Where they exist, they can be easily manipulated, deleted, fragmented or lost. Poorly kept records, resulting in inaccurate or incomplete data, can lead to misunderstanding and misuse of information, cover-up of fraud, skewed findings and statistics, misguided policy recommendations and misplaced funding, all with serious consequences for poverty reduction and economic development,”
The IIM-Africa’s President added that managing public sector records as a basis for accountability, transparency and good governance, remained a systemic issue rather than an issue relating to any particular records type.
He added that in developing records and information management commitments, government should clearly state how records and information management would serve to make government more transparent.
“Introducing records control regime or upgrading systems to streamline procedures without actually making information available to the public, does not make governments more transparent. Government should be committed to increasing transparency and access to information, and should therefore ensure appropriate powers, resources and enforcement procedures are in place to facilitate data and information sharing among various government agencies,” he said.