By Isaac Asuquo
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments worldwide have been running below their usual capacity due to total or partial shutdowns and, consequently, technology has become a profound enabler of governmental activities. A few days ago, a new executive order in New York, one of the worst-hit COVID-19 states in the United States, has legalised remote issuance of marriage certificates while authorising priests and clerks to perform wedding rites online. New York presumably took a leaf from the handbook of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, that had earlier ratified the usage of video calls for marriage licence issuance. These measures are expected to be emulated across the globe to curtail the spread of the microbe, and by other state institutions as well.
On the local front, we find ourselves in a precarious situation given the seemingly old-fashioned manner governments at the top tiers operate. Government offices are rife with papers and pens whereas their peers world over have migrated to more advanced systems like tablets and high-performing laptops.
On that account, remote working is inevitably far-fetched for essential civil servants and are therefore inadvertently placed at risk of virus contraction. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that organisations and affluent individuals who have contributed their quota in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the populace have unconsciously shunned this pivotal but concealed group.
Preserving maximal government operations at this decisive time is pivotal to the socio-economic balance of the nation. With the ability to execute job functions remotely, mainstays like payrolling, salary disbursement, pension computation and payment, supplier payments and receivables from the public and monitoring of government funds will be performed seamlessly. The effects of this ostensibly routine tasks must not be underestimated as the attendant effects will spur transactions that could cushion the effect of momentary economic standstill.
That is perhaps why future-thinking firms like SystemSpecs are ensuring that this stakeholder group are well-equipped to forestall a collapse of critical governmental operations and are prepared for what appears to be the future of work and e-governance – remote-working. In a recent philanthropic stride, the organisation committed N100million in cash and kind to the national COVID-19 effort. What probably caught the attention of most sustainability experts and nation-states development advocates was the donation of laptops with broadband connectivity to state government officials especially in remote locations.
In the words of an Executive Director of the company, Demola Igbalajobi, the donation of laptops to government officials across the geo-political zones was “designed to support the remote working of government officials with technology as an enabler, thereby ensuring the continuity of critical government operations that will reduce the hardship on citizens during this period.’’
With the impact of the pandemic expected to last several years, organisations need to realise that supporting government’s drive to position itself for imminent changes are essential to the attainment of their corporate goals. With the Western and Eastern Worlds light-years ahead of us on the developmental curve, e-governance could be the determining factor of our economic recovery rate. Therefore, the actions of SystemSpecs to this end cannot be overemphasized.
Indeed, patriotism of the highest calibre is a keen attribute of the brand and this writer daresay it is embedded in its rich organisational DNA. We must recall how the company saved the country’s economy from “collapse” in collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the CBN through the implementation of the much-vaunted Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy. The brand has also executed countless far-reaching CSR activities in partnership with state governments, non-profit organisations, and industry peers to enhance local capacity development. For instance, its Remita Summer Coding Camp helps to favourably position Nigeria as a notable player in the future of technology across the globe.
History shows that long-term planning is an indispensable feature of outstanding civilisations, and it is our collective responsibilities as a people to ensure that our government receives as much support as possible to not only combat the disease but to be well-placed to serve us better in the aftermath. It is for this reason that we must applaud SystemSpecs for spearheading several reforms to boost e-governance in Nigeria and implore other corporates to look in that direction.
Asuquo writes from Akwa Ibom.