Nigeria: Resisting E-Governance in Nigeria

13 December 2019

With the introduction and implementation of a growing number of IT-based transparency enhancement platforms and tools in Nigeria, the country is gradually catching up with the world on e-governance thanks to which governance and organized private sector business are increasingly becoming transparent.

Though still below standard in terms of efficiency and coverage, things like personal biometric identification system, e-platforms for Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) management among other platforms and tools have the potential, if sustained, to practically eliminate systematic corruption in governance and public service delivery sectors in the country.

After all, just recently, Open Treasury Portal (OPT); another equally vital e-platform was launched where all federal government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are expected to, on a daily basis, publish their respective reports on any payment of more than N5m; and to also publish their respective "monthly budget performance; quarterly financial statements; and annual financial statements prepared in compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)".

Also, though the impacts of these measures are still barely noticeable against the backdrop of effectively institutionalized systematic stealing of public funds and deep-rooted culture of corruption in the country, yet some measure of transparency has indeed been achieved in many aspects of governance and public service delivery, which is gradually but consistently reducing corrupt practices in government and organized private sector activities.

Besides, the amount of public funds stolen in corrupt practices is equally gradually but consistently going down, as it's now becoming increasingly harder for corrupt government officials and organized private executives to perpetuate systematic stealing and cover it up with the kind of ease obtained in past. It now takes increasingly painstaking scheming and with the connivance of unscrupulous IT operators, consultants and bank executives to sabotage, manipulate or bypass such IT-based transparency enhancement measures.

As this development gradually takes root in the country's bureaucratic and political establishments, an increasing number of corruption perpetrators across federal government ministries, departments, agencies and other establishments are losing out in the hitherto literally free-for-all plunder of public resources. Likewise, the amounts of resources lost continue to decrease, which explains the continued decrease in the flow of corruption proceeds around.

The current phenomenon of rich individuals mysteriously going broke in the country over the past few years isn't always due to economic difficulties in the country, after all. Though many legitimately rich people have indeed been adversely affected by the worsening economic deterioration in the country, however, many others, being civil servants or political office holders all their lives who therefore never had justifiable means to be that rich in the first place, have actually gone broke as the flow of corruption proceeds in the country shrinks.

Equally, many rich-gone-broke businessmen over the past few years actually owed their fortunes to corruption proceeds. Many of them have actually been business fronts for corrupt government officials and political officeholders. Many others also have been either unscrupulous government contractors, corruption proceeds-laundering agents, rent-seeking businessmen enjoying unearned government-provided concessions, or smugglers who have always connived with corrupt Customs officials to perpetuate their smuggling activities.

Of course, those and other individuals and bodies affected by the introduction of IT-based transparency enhancement measures would never relent on their efforts to, by hook or by crook, have their way anyway, which explains the persistence of treasury leakages albeit at a declining rate; after all, no amount of corruption preventive measures no matter how sophisticated; or even punitive measures no matter how severe can completely prevent or eliminate corruption.

What is, however, particularly surprising is the institutional resistance against some of such measures that university administrators and academics, in particular, have shown. They resisted the inclusion of university finances in the Treasury Single Account (TSA); and are now vehemently resisting enrollment on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

Though, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) argues, its members may indeed have legitimate concerns about the measures, I believe whatever their concerns and peculiarities are can be addressed without necessarily bastardizing the measures.

However, it's quite obvious from the Union's arguments and demands that it's actually resisting enrollment in the system itself, which raises doubts over its credibility and lends credence to the widespread allegations of corruption in the universities that the Union is allegedly trying to not only cover up but carry on perpetuating as well.

Besides, the allegations got even more credible with the commencement of IPPIS enrollment exercises in academic institutions when reports began to emerge suggesting hurried recruitments in some institutions in desperate bids to cover up the army of ghost workers they keep and justify the public resources they regularly steal in the name of paying their salaries and other entitlements.

Now, as technology continues to produce more and more IT-based transparency enhancement tools, they would always be resisted by those with threatened illegitimate interests. Yet, down the line, they would certainly lose out to the superior capabilities of technology for transparency to prevail.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Daily Trust

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.