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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Internet Governance: Tracking Governance on Social Media - Anambra State as a Case Study

Being the Text of the Address presented by Rtn Ifeanyi Aniagoh, the Senior Special Assistant on Social Media to Gov Willie Obiano of Anambra State at the 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum hosted at Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Lagos on Thursday through Friday, June 2-3, 2016 by DigitalSENSE Africa in conjunction with Nigerian Communications Commission and National Information Technology Development Agency.
Excerpts:
Protocol:
It gives great pleasure to be in your midst at the moment, I want to say that I'm honoured.
We are all lucky to be born in a generation where the internet has become a tool for letting out and getting information.

We are in this unique gathering to talk about how the internet should be governed to create viable opportunities for Nigerians.

The term ‘governance’ refers to an encompassing set of guiding rules and norms that guide any area of human activity, rules that may be formal or informal, and are applicable to virtually any societal activity, whether ‘market governance', ‘political governance' or ‘internet governance.’

Internet governance covers a wide range of issues, from day-to-day technical and operational workings of the internet to public policy issues such as combating crime.
Social Media refer to the means of interaction among a people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas through virtual platforms.

Some examples of Social Media platforms include Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, Blogs and Websites.

Tracking refers to approaches that allow the concerned to record and follow the progress of any identified problem or "issue" until the challenge is resolved.

Tracking of Governance provides us with a way to report issues, track progress and know how, why, when and who is responsible for resolving issues in our society as well as monitoring government activities.

There are a lot of persons interested in tracking governance; you and I, civil society organizations, donor agencies and government think-tanks.

My role in this conference is to do justice to the "Tracking of Governance on the Social Media using Anambra State as a Case Study"... How do the administration of Gov Willie Obiano bring "government" to the consciousness of Onye Anambra and other concerned persons?

Why Anambra?
While it's the duty of the organizers of this forum to make open their reason for choosing Anambra for this study, we are all witnesses to the fact that the eastern State known as the "Light of the Nation" is a state with many firsts.

Today, Anambra State tops the chart in terms of Nigerian states with appreciable engagement on the Social Media and e-governance.

This is as a result of ndi Anambra's unquenchable desire to find solutions through enterprises; and the governor's natural inclination to empowering young persons who are the major stakeholders in this internet age.

What do we do in Anambra State?  Here, "we" refers to Anambra State Government.
To ensure a full participation of ndi Anambra in governance and to help the people to keep track of what the government is doing, we run the following programmes:

1. WhatsApp Session - a novel network of 87,000 persons connected together with the rare ability to share information and receive feedback within 60 seconds;

2. Anambra Scorecard - a 2-hour per week online live programme anchored on Facebook where the political office holders and stakeholders are "put on the spot" for the people to ask questions directly from all over the world;

3. Social Media Hangout - a monthly offline gathering of online dwellers in Anambra State to interact, share experiences and learn new skills aimed at promoting the positive use of the Social Media... Here we discourage e-thuggery;

4. Public Court - a weekly online poll spread across Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc, to get direct feedback on the people's perception and opinion on government's policies, projects and programs.

In addition to these self-assessing programmes, we also maintain broadcast of the government's activities through Facebook, YouTube, Emails, Blogs and other Social Media platforms.

There are two important things to note:

1. These channels provide the people with the opportunity to be in the know about the governance of their State ... Giving them the privilege to ask questions and keep tract of the day-to-day running of their government;

2. You can only sustain these channels if you have quality programmes and achievements to show... An insincere or non-performing government cannot survive the volume of criticisms therein.

What do others do?  "Others" refers to non-government stakeholders in the Anambra State Project ... The CSOs, NGOs, critics, the citizens and the opposition.

The Social Media presence of Anambra State Government:
1. Gives the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)  and NGOs the time-saving access to relevant facts and figures enabling them to keep track of the performance index of Anambra State Government;

2. Gives the critics the open platform to constructively engage the government by sharing their opinions on how better the State can be run... Note that criticisms are not insults or online bullying;

3. Gives ndi Anambra and concerned persons secure and confidential routes to send feedback directly to the government of the State;

4. Gives the citizens an alternate and very reliable means of resolving emergencies.
Ultimately, the recognition of the role of New Media in governance which informed the decision of Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State to engage a Senior Special Assistant on Social Media, has given Ndi Anambra, at home and in diaspora, the rare opportunity to partake in government of their State.

One may then ask ...  What are the advantages of tracking governance through Social Media? The unlimited list of these merits as being experienced in Anambra State can be summarised thus:

1. People-oriented Governance - A government like we have in Anambra State being aware that the people are constantly watching its activities endeavours to provide what the people need, listens to their demands and alleviates their plights;

2. Purposeful Leadership - A careful appraisal of the giant strides of Gov Willie Obiano of Anambra within 2 years in office explains this benefit... A government that consciously allows self to be publicly assessed at all times, as is obtainable in Anambra State, can only survives by providing purposeful leadership;

3. Job Creation - The programmes I enumerated earlier gives direct jobs to 41 young persons while Anambra Social Media Hangout trains at least 20 online entrepreneurs per month... Imagine the indirect jobs being created through the government MDAs and the CSOs/NGOs that follow the government on the internet to track its progress;

4. All-inclusive Democracy - What else will a democratic society like ours wish for than what we have in Anambra State, where everyone has the privilege to participate in the governance of the State and all citizens enjoy the right to Freedom of Information (FOI).

While e-governance is not a cure-all for modern challenges of governance, it is a powerful enabling tool that has aided governments achieve some of their development and administrative reform goals.

It has also helped major stakeholders of good governance to keep track of the progress being made by governments of the day.

Generally, many states in Nigeria are now realizing the need for e-governance in order to provide people-focused, cost effective, and easy to use services for citizens and enterprises and to improve the internal workings of government.

Similarly, many governance tracking applications have emerged rapidly (such as yourbudgit.com, tracka.ng, etc).

Thus,  it's very evident that if other states and the Federal Government can emulate Anambra State on the effective use of the internet in governance while allowing free tracking of government activities by interested persons, more Nigerians will be able to access and assess the government’s services without necessarily going to the government office or contacting by telephone.

The use of the internet will reduce the negative attitude Nigerians have towards government agencies because not many people enjoy interacting with their government; and delivery of government services from any place to citizens.

If well-orchestrated, e-governance can also bring an improved citizens’ access to information and services, increase efficiency in service and information delivery to citizens and other stakeholders as well prepare our nation for digital democracy which involves e-voting.

As a takeaway, I encourage every young person here not to stop at effectively using Social Media platforms but aim at developing better platforms ...

The e-government positions and the jobs being created by the need to track governance could be yours.

Thank you for listening.
Ifeanyi ANIAGOH, SSA to Gov Willie Obiano on Social Media.
@IfeanyiAniagoh

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix 1: Ifeanyi Aniagoh, SSA on Social Media to Gov. Obiano presenting his paper on Internet Governance: Tracking Governance on Social Media.
Pix 2: L-R: Domain Name Business Manager, UpperLink Ltd, Mrs Irieti Chukwujama; President, Cyber Security Expert Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), Mr. Remi Afon;  Executive Director Operations, DigitalSENSE Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke; Chairman of NDSF 2016 and President, Nigeria Computer Society,  Prof. Adesola Aderounmu; ;  Broadband and Converged Solution Manager, Phase3Telecom, Mr. Yemi Adedoyin, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Social Media, Anambra State, Mr. Ifeanyi  Aniagoh responding during question and answer session, at 2-day 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum held at Digital Bridge Institute, Lagos.

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