Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nigeria Police- Failure To Act Is A Crime!!

As most of you already know, I am a keen follower of some "disgruntled" Nigerian elements... people like me, who are saddened by the happenings in our homeland. Men like Donald Duke whom I had prepared all around me to vote for in the Baba botched elections, I hope he will run again and usher Nigeria into a new era.

I also like some not-so-popular characters like my "demolition king" Nasiru el-Rufia who thought the visions of our fathers should not be thwarted by the rich and powerful - though his activities as FCT minister remain quite debatable, we cant deny the fact that he stubbornly restored the beauty of that city - and the lessons learnt are now been applied in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Owerri. I also love and have made contact with another fearless men - Ribadu who dared touch the lions tail. Ironically, most of these men played a major role in the administration of someone I am not so fund of - but thats a story for another day.

Nasiru recently (late January 2010) invited short notes on what we think Nigeria needs (I guess he is polling ideas) and I gave him my 10 cents worth on the issue. I decided to publish it after seeing the gory picture on the right. Apparently taken after a robbery incident on Benin - Lagos express way.

I got it off a certain Henry Ajofors Status. which claimed the dead bodies were victims who could not provide cash or valuables to the robbers - at gun point the bus driver was asked to run them over. Another spin on the story says the vitims were crushed when an unsuspecting bus driver ran into the highway robbery at night. Whichever way you look at it, I think it is a failure of law enforcement. I doubt that the situation would have presented itself in the first place, if the police were doing a good job at combating crime.

Below is my short (abridged) reply to Nasiru's invitation on how Technology can help Nigeria.


Dear Nasiru,

It gladdened my heart to read your special invitation to send in our thoughts about our dear country. I am a man of not so many words, and really can’t resist the temptation to wait until I have written down something nice. So I will take my chances and hope you will project and see where my thoughts may lead.

Like most like-minded Nigerians, I have often contemplated the source of our problems. Drawing from pre-colonial history, religion, culture, the civil war, until date. I still cannot put my finger on it, but I will not put it past the people.

Nigeria’s problem is the state of mind of the people that call it home – I am a keen believer in the fact that “a people deserve the leaders they get”. We may continue to grope in the dark, until we recognize the fact- that until we seek to preserve our heritage for the common good (not self), we are doomed to live in shame. You will do well to argue that saying the people are to blame is not fair, and probably too open ended. I know that there is no simple solution to our common problems which stern from Eroded cultural values, religion, rule of law, greed, self servicing representation, etc to name a few. We all know these problems, none-the-less, what continues to elude us is how to set about solving it. My answer? – Technology! (Information Systems)

I am not a student of law, nor am I a politician. I have spent the last decade and a half developing and applying technology to solve corporate problems both in the UK and at home in Nigeria. I am about to conclude a masters in eGovernance in a bid to veer off and see how I can apply technology to solve problems of governance in Nigeria. Technology knows no friend or foe, speaks no particular language and bears no allegiance to any political party, not even its creator. This easily lends itself to remove the subjectivity and inefficiency of human mediation in aiding governance. Technology challenges professionals (even politicians) as it ostensibly sets to demystify their activities. Most aware public officers have taken to IT to mediate- Pls see how, the Obama administration blogs, the Australian government uses IT, and how Nasiru El’ Rufai blogs…

Unlike those who feel Information Systems are easy fixes, even here in the west, introducing technology to governance has been fraught with huge challenges that often end in failure, but a well structured programme that brings value to both the governed and the government has ushered the west into a new era where the citizenry feel they are part of the government thereby increasing the gulf between the 3rd and the 1st world.

It is the lack of this conjoined IS systems that paints a sorry picture of the state of affairs in Nigeria. The west cant understand why we cant fish out 419ers, they cant understand why elections are rigged over and over again, they cant understand why people are gunned down and the police have no clue and leads to start their investigation, they can’t understand why there is not database of records or births death, marriages for the country. Now, imagine a Nigeria where technology links up the registry (birth, marriage, death, vehicle) to Law enforcement (police, courts, intelligence). Where, data is mined for elections, census? Where the CBN, AGF, Government agencies share data. Technology is the leading edge the west has over the 3rd world.

A society where there is peace and safety (checked by technology), where the police and its agencies will enforce the law (aided by technology), prosecute the guilty (based on scientific facts not cohesion), where the electoral process is devoid of subjective human intervention - will ultimately lead to one where no man is above the law.

There is no blueprint on how to evolve a technologically driven society, but a good start is to introduce it in school to produce a information systems savvy citizenry, while encouraging inter- agency IT convergence. I am very keen on this convergence and plan workshops to government agencies to see how I can get involved.

I am running late for an appointment, but would like to hear your take on this.

Kind regards

************ - Shakabula