The Story Of How
Nigeria Commenced Movement
From Analog To
The foregoing is a detailed account of
how Nigeria commenced her movement from analogue to digital technology, as
written by President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, in his book entitled ‘’ My
Watch’’ ; Volume Two, Chapter 45, pages 590 591, 593, 594 and 595; published in
Nigeria in 2014 by Kachifo Limited, under its Prestige Imprint, 253 Herbert
Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria. url: www.kachifo.com; Copyright @olusegun
The account details all the preparatory
works, that led to the landmark decision which has now become one of President
Obasanjo administration’s flagship achievements, namely:
Two of the three (3) new institutions
created as backroom engines to run good governance in Nigeria in line with the
provisions of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) were NITDA and
NITDA, a wholly owned government agency
was assigned the mandate to serve as the Clearing House and Regulator for ICT
in Nigeria. NeGSt on the other hand, a private sector-driven outfit was created
as a Joint Venture between the Federal Government and technical experts led by
Dr. Felix Babatunde Obada and Dr. Olu Agunloye and registered under the
Companies Act of Nigeria and assigned the role of Operator and Change Agent.
Galaxy backbone, the third outfit owned
by government was later created to ensure rapid broadband penetration for
Government-to-Government businesses across the nation.
The journey to digitize has seen the
nation’s telephony system increase exponentially from 300,000 land -based lines
to more than 150 million cellular lines. Every imaginable human transaction in
banking, commerce, entertainment, broadcasting, agriculture, tourism, security
and even warfare is now conducted over the world wide web.
The present Government has even gone a
step further to reposition and strengthen NITDA with a view to helping her
build capacity for sustaining her ability to provide leadership whose
impact is felt across the entire digital ecosystem. This is now happening
through deliberate efforts to co-operate and collaborate with key players in
NeGSt on her part, will continue to
make herself available to support efforts by succeeding governments, to expand
the frontiers of knowledge and workmanship in the areas of transparency,
accountability and zero tolerance to corruption.
The appropriate section of President
Obasanjo’s book which validates the above claim is reproduced below:
“With advancement in electronics and
information and communication technology (ICT), and with the advent of the
internet, it became crystal clear that governance would have to take advantage
of the new opportunities and technologies. I strongly believe that serious
pursuit of the use of computers and ICT will eventually lead to paperless
government. To do otherwise can only amount to the height of folly.
But how could we get maximum benefits
and ensure best practices in all businesses of ministries and departments of
government? What infrastructure and superstructure did we need? What training
and retraining must we embark upon? How should we proceed? These questions and
more needed to be answered.
I, therefore, decided that we should
have ‘stakeholders’ conference on e-government strategies and implementation in
Nigeria – another reform, another innovation. I found that my speech on 8 March
2004 at that conference fully captured my views, aims, objectives, mission, and
vision in the area of e-government. The speech is reproduced here:
Right from the beginning of this
Administration in 1999, I made it clear that “it will no longer be business as
usual. The Administration has since consistently propagated new ways for good
governance. The emphasis, style and programmes of this Administration have
always centred on reorientation of civil servants and public officers towards a
change in the ways of doing government business in a transparent manner.
This was to be done through the
eradication of corruption and enhancing efficiency and productivity through a
synergy of private and public sector participation. We have taken major
steps, namely, privatisation, deregulation and monetisation, towards
accomplishing the goal of a compact, accountable and productive government.
There is no going back to the old ways.
However, the backroom engine, which
will run good governance through due diligence, due process and transparency,
actually needs to be formally strengthened and institutionalised for widespread
effectiveness through computer assisted modern processes now commonly known as
In simple terms, we may set the
definition of eGovernment as follows:
The use of information and
communication technologies to improve efficiency, effectiveness, transparency
and accountability of governance through implementing data warehousing and
integrated decision support system to manage modern economy for the benefit of
This Administration has laid the
foundation for eGovernment in Nigeria by carefully thought-out programmes, some
of which include:
In addition to these, we have
restructured the technological landscape by increasing land-based telephone
capacity from some 300,000 lines to about 720,000 or by 120%; mobile telephone
capacity from some 300,000 lines to about 720,000 or by 120%; mobile telephones
from 50,000 to over 2,500,000 or by 5,000% and electric power generation from
1,400 MW to 4,800 MW or 250%, all within the first four years of this
It is with pride that I wish to
acknowledge that the institutions, programmes and projects which we have set up
for the development of ICT applications are providing positive and encouraging
results. My presence here at this conference on eGovernment Strategies is yet
an evidence for this claim.
Our vision for ICT and the development
of a virile Information Society matches that of the Africa Information Society
Initiative (AISI), and the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). We are
committed to the development programmes arising from the challenges to Africa
on Globalization and the Information Age.
My personal participation at the World
Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in December 2003 with other
Heads of Government and Heads of State is yet an attestation of my government’s
commitment to translate digital divide to digital opportunities.
The overall thrust of our mission is to
generate internal effectiveness and efficiency to provide better services for
the governed while remaining transparent, accountable and compact.
This Administration is set to conclude
reforms and reorientation in Civil Service and to inject ICT to drive economic
transformation in all the sectors, from primary education, to primary
healthcare to agriculture, solid minerals development, tourism and virtual
libraries. Government, through NITDA, will streamline and standardise all
issues related to ICT and eGovernment applications at the Federal level,
including minimum standards to be met by each Ministry or agency.
Nigeria is determined, this time
around, not to be just a user but a driver and developer. The Federal
Government will invest time, resources and funds in the development of
Information and Communication Technologies, building of a National Information
Infrastructure and the applications for all facets of government activities and
commerce in order to “promote eLearning, eBusiness and ensure eDemocracy.
All tiers of Government are urged to
join this campaign, not only by setting up their own State Information
Technology Agency or its equivalent but also by developing all encompassing
programmes involving the State Assemblies, Local Government Councils, Judiciary
All tiers of Government are enjoined to
develop and implement online and offline computer assisted solutions to
facilitate basic and people centred operations like payroll, pension
administration, accounting and Geographical Information System (GIS)-based
applications for primary education, healthcare delivery and two-way citizens’
interaction with Government.
Perhaps the most potent aspect of the
plans and programmes of Government to actualise its mission on ICT applications
is the promotion of private sector investment and participation. This
Administration will actively encourage Public Private Partnership for the
development of ICT and related applications, customization, commissioning and
maintenance of software, hardware and networks as may be necessary.
In this regard, we have set the pace by
consigning development and implementation of eGovernment programmes to a
special purpose vehicle. This is a joint venture between Government, technical
experts and financial partners wherein the Government has only nominal shares
and the bulk of the equity, loans and other costs are generated through private
sector sources, put into practice through the National eGovernment Strategies
Limited, which is registered under the Company’s Act.
Implementing eGovernment offers an
opportunity for improving the way government businesses are carried out, how
services are delivered and how avenues are created for the citizens to interact
It draws from the openness of the ICT
“world and impacts on government activities and operations, breaking barriers
of hierarchical traditions, secrecy, and bureaucracies that are naturally not
compliant with 21st century aspirations and practice. It is an umbrella for
institutionalising due diligence, due process and hence transparency.
Apart from being the vehicle for
developing and strengthening the National Information and Communication
Infrastructure and its Architecture, e-Government permeates seamlessly through
activities involving Government-to-Government, Government-to-Business and
This is ensured through eTourism,
eJudiciary, eAgriculture, eTaxation, eRevenue, ePricing, eProcurement,
eMonitoring, eLearning and so on; all of which together make government more
compact, effective and efficient.”
I should not conclude this address
without mentioning the revenue generation aspect of eGovernment
programmes. It is, however, not a main product of eGovernment. It is a
side-effect. Revenue is generated because of the increase in efficiency,
blocking of waste pipes and generally more transparent nature which reduces
Take for instance, estimated tax
collection would improve by 300% nationwide when eTaxation modules are deployed
at Federal, State and Local Government levels. Another form of revenue comes
from service charges, when, for instance, a citizen pays a token fee for
renewal of licence online, checking of examination results, establishment
posting or for buying of application forms from ekiosks or eBuka at local or
remote areas without travelling to urban centres.
As a matter of emphasis, I wish to
reiterate my full personal support, and that of government, for eGovernment and
related applications as these are inherently dedicated to transparency,
accountability and good governance.
We received the report of the
conference, which was very comprehensive and realistic, and started
implementation in earnest. The administration that succeeded mine reversed the
trend and the policy – another reversal to set us back as a nation.
But what we needed for real
transformation and equitable progress and development was not sloganeering or
renovation but clear, solid innovation to which the majority of our people
subscribe. This was the basis for all of my administration’s efforts in
government, and indeed the foundation of all our reforms.
NeGSt, out of the assigned FGN mandate
has since gone ahead to design and implement eImmigration, eProcurement,
eLearning, eHealth (Telemedicine), while eNaira is awaiting implementation.
See the photostory of how Nigeria began her movement from analogue to digital technology