WHERE IS ICT4D NOW?
As a nation, we have never been short of blueprints which were expected to be used to transform the country from the primitive economy it is into a world-class, development-led, performing economy. With regret, one recalls the National Development Plans of the military years from Gowon till the demise of the Second Republic.
The Babangida administration refurbished that into what he called the National Rolling Plans, of which each year's budget was to be an integral part. After IBB, there was Vision 2010 of the Abacha regime, and after Abacha died, we still remained where we were, more or less. Then came Obasanjo and NEEDS, and four years less 25 days after Obasanjo left, we are still where we were. Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua came, and we had the Seven-Point Agenda
Those in the know are aware that there is a blueprint for development on the platform of ICT, called the Nigerian ICT4D Strategic Action Plan (2008-2011), which was tailored to help the Yar'Adua administration achieve the Seven-Point Agenda and the current fad, Vision 20-2020. In fact, the ICT4D 2008-2011 was supposed to be the first of quadrennial plans through which the objectives of the Nigerian National Policy on Information Technology, developed in year 2000, would be realized.
Again, those in the know are also aware that the National Information Technology Development Agency was established in 2001 to serve as 'a national agency for co-ordinating Nigerian ICT4D efforts and initiatives.' In fact, the blueprint has Strategic Action Plans for various sectors of th economy, with timelines and measurable targets se therein. Some of the sectors for which there action plans include health, agriculture, education, human resource development, governance and legislature and e-government. Other areas are national security and law enforcement, infrastructure, the private sector, and generally, ICT awareness popularization and deployment. Seven months to the end of 2011 and the expiration of the ICT4D Strategic Action Plan, it is time to take stock and ask pertinent questions.
To be specific, and in relation to the time bound measurable targets, is there a national health information database in place? Can our health professionals exchange data and knowledge seamlessly? In the area of law enforcement, how many police stations in the country have on-line, real time databases on criminals? In fact, is there a police computer in Kaduna with links to another in Yenagoa? In the area of education, how many primary and secondary schools in the country have computers, even if it's only in the head teacher's office? How many virtual libraries do we have now? In agriculture, have we determined just how much arable land is available? And is there a geographic information system available to enable us do that? The list is endless….Well, there seems to be some action in the e-government area, but given the fact that it is tailored towards higher internally generated revenue (IGR) which the governments are not spending on the people, that is selective attention, which is exploitative. If the objectives of ICT4D 2008-2011 have not been realized, it's just too bad for us a nation. In fact, the closest to it is President Jonathan's Buy Nigeria directive, which needs more than that to help us as a nation.