FG inaugurates committee for ranking of MDAs on access to information



The Federal Government on Friday in Abuja inaugurated a committee to assess the websites of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the area of information dissemination on government activities.

The committe was inaugurated by the Director General, Bureau of Public Reforms, Mr Dasuki Arabi.

He said that the jury for the 2021/2022 Federal Government ranking of MDAs websites would determine whether information disseminated satisfied citizens’ curiosity and yearnings on government activities.

According to him, the MDAs websites, hosted by Galaxy Backbone and NITDA, were meant to eliminate fake news and minimize fraudulent internet activities in government offices.

Arabi said the federal government was passionate about informing and engaging citizens in governance process to enhance national unity and development.

This, he added, necessitated the centralised websites to ensure accurate and use of new media to enforce freedom of information and create one-stop shop towards inclusive governance process and better delivery of public services.

“I note with great satisfaction that the healthy competition going on among MDAs as a result of the ranking has produced a number of standardized government websites which provides the citizens with the opportunities to go online to register businesses.

“They are also able to obtain Tax Clearance Certificate, drivers’ licenses, National Identity Number (NIN), Birth/Death Certificate, International Passport, vehicular particulars/plate Number.

“People are also able to consult with doctors and receive medical attention, pursue academic activities.

“These are some of the tremendous transformation the Scorecard has brought into the delivery of public goods and services ,’’ he said.

Arabi noted that in the new normal, COVID-19 had brought about the need for a strong and effective public service, using emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence and digitization of government records and processes.

The director general added that government websites, which were considered as national assets, now drive improvement in governance and development of the country.

He explained that the websites ranking was key and paramount to the delivery of the agenda of government.

“It is an inevitable exercise we all as government entities must collectively deliver in fulfilment of Mr President’s aspirations for having well-informed citizens who are loyal and active participants in governance process.

“I must say, it has been five years of dedication, commitment, hard work and sacrifice for the Bureau, working with an Inter-Ministerial Task Team drawn from key government agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organisations.

“Also development partners and private/multination companies, to lay the ground work that nurture this initiative into what we all are witnessing here today.

“It is worthy to state that the concern and burning desire shared over the state of governments websites when the scorecard was initially conceived is beginning to achieve the positive impact envisioned,’’ he said.

Arabi advised all MDAs to key into the initiative and partner with the Bureau for long-term ownership and engagement, including training programmes.

He told the committee members that their `assignment comes with so much demand for integrity, experience, impartiality and ability to withstand social pressure.’’

Arabi expressed gratitude to the Chairman, Steering Committee on Reforms and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, for his continued support to the Bureau.

The Chairperson of the Jury, Mrs Mary Uduma pledged that the members would be objective, transparent and unbiased in carrying out the assignment.

She said they would ensure that the MDAs met the requirements of ensuring that the public have easy access to information.

“We will be looking out for content, relevance, functionality, intractability, connectivity, accessibility, availability, capacity building and how secured the website of MDAs are,’’ she said.

In his remarks, the SGF, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Mrs Habiba Lawal urged the committee to ensure that the MDAs conform to standards of best practices.

Mustapha noted that the public had the right to all information needed and answers to all questions on government activities.

He stressed that the enhancement of ICT would promote transparency in governance and urged MDAs to embrace digital technology to grow the country’s digital economy.

“ In the world today the best means of transacting businesses were in technology, and Nigeria is fast developing in the use of ICT, and the present administration encourages human capacity development in ICT,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that contributory remarks on the need to embrace global trends on the use of ICT were made by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed, and Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

Others who spoke at the event were the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone, Muhammed Abubakar and the President of NIRA, Muhammed Rudman, who commended the federal government for promoting good governance via ICT.

The rest were Prof. Mohammed Ajiya, President, Digital Bridge Institute and the Director-General NITDA, Inuwa Abdullahi.

NAN also reports that members of the jury were drawn from some government establishments, CSOs, NGOs, Microsoft and Google.

The 2021/2022 assessment is the third since inception.

In the maiden edition, the Federal Ministry of Information topped the chart, while NIMC took the lead in the second edition.(NAN)