19 June 2018

Nigeria: How Nigerians Can Use Technology to Ensure Accountability in Government

Abuja — As the world continues to revolve around technology, individuals and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been urged to leverage on information and communication technology (ICT) in tracking government activities at all levels.

This was the thrust of a one-day workshop on the use of technology in tracking and improving government's accountability organised in Abuja by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL).

Through PERL, a programme funded by the Department For International Development (DFID) in collaboration with Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER), tools like budget portal, gas flare tracker, recovery intervention tracking, CASE election tool, and grievance redress mechanism had been developed.

Participants at the workshop were divided into four groups, each headed by a moderator who taught them the appropriate use of each tool interchangeably.Team lead, Governance and Social Development, DFID, Oliver Blake Reboot, disclosed that the organisation identified budget monitoring, gas flaring, election, and grievance redress, as key areas of government activities, which citizens and CSOs could monitor using technology.

He said PERL has also developed a recovery intervention tool to monitor international partners, civil society and government agencies' intervention in the Northeast.

He pointed out that it was important for people in the Northeast to know the kind of assistance to expect, adding that the tool could help them to report back if they do not get it.

"The technology can be used in many areas. One of it is in the delivery of services in the Northeast. We are looking at tracking elections real time."We are looking at monitoring gas flaring in the Niger Delta area and providing people with budget information and feedback and how successful governments have been in implementing their programmes," he said.

He stated that PERL's focus was to ensure that the Nigerian budgets were implemented effectively in delivering benefits to the people and also see that citizens employ the tools to demand accountability from government.

On how the tools can be further used to ensure transparency in government, Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, stated that citizens could use the tools to check governments' activities without fear of harassment.

"It is a work in progress, and there are a lot of improvement. The proliferation of smart phones gives people the platform to track government activities. There is a lot of progress from what it used to be. "People are using technology to check government. Now, using the gas flare tracker, you can get the estimate of gas flared instead of relying on rumours or hearsays," he said.

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