You are on page 1of 13

A TERM PAPER

ON

A VISION OF THE FUTURE: NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WITHIN IT CONTEXT


ABSTRACT

In almost every nation of the world, there is an insatiable desire to improve on the current
economic situation no matter how good it seems. This explains the ratification of the United
Nation’s millennium development goals (MDG’s) by world leaders at the turn of the millennium.
In Nigeria, the National Vision 2020 (NV2020) has been adopted as a local tool for achieving the
UN MDG’s and accelerate development. This paper seeks to explore ways through which the
National Vision can be achieved through Information Technology (IT). Some parts of the vision
will be treated, the current state will be identified, goal state as stipulated in the national working
plan will be highlighted and the ‘how’ question will be answered in the context of IT.

2
INTRODUCTION

A vision is a clear mental picture of the future which must represent a significant improvement
on the current state (NV2020/NCS 2008). Obviously, every country of the world has a desire to
improve on their current state. The amalgam of desire and action plan usually sums up the vision.

In September 2000, world leaders, including those from Nigeria, met to ratify the United
Nation’s millennium development goals. These goals were to be achieved within a period of 15
years. They served as a vision for the world ; A ‘global’ vision.

Recently, the Nigerian government came up with its own vision summed up as:

“By 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world able to consolidate
its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global
economic and political arena.” (NV2020/NCS 2008)

The above declaration can be seen as a ‘local’ vehicle for achieving the global vision. However,
history reminds us that as a nation, we have in the past had similar ‘local’ visions that achieved
nothing but left the citizenry in worse off conditions. Several factors have been responsible for
the failure of past government policies amongst which is the inability to tap into the power of
Information Technology (IT).

IT is the platform on which booming economies around us are built. Quality rice and groundnut
oil production/exportation in Thailand, worldwide proliferation of Chinese mobile phone
technologies and increased GDP brought about by sport in the UK amongst others are examples
of national economic transformation that were made possible through the power of IT.

Nigeria cannot be an exception if she is to achieve her vision of becoming one of the top 20
world economies by 2020. This paper will focus on some selected areas of the vision and
highlight ways through which IT can be used to actualize them and consequently accelerate
national development.

3
LITERATURE REVIEW

ADOPTION OF A RESEARCH-BASED APPROACH

Prof. O.E. Osuagwu (Nsukka 2009) said “there is no field that will exist in this world without
passing through IT, whether Law, Medical Science, Anatomy, Marketing”.
IT has gone a long way in nation development. To have full understanding of how the impact
affect a nation, a research-based approach is adopted. Researching which involves a methodical
investigation into a subject in order to discover facts.

GOVERNMENT
The application of IT to improve the activities of public sector organizations is widely seen as a
means to promote efficiency in public administration. As various studies have shown, e-
Government goes beyond the introduction of technology. It calls for a paradigm shift, reforms in
organizations, new forms of leadership, and transformation of public-private partnerships to
make its impact effective (Allen et al, 2001 ). It entails changing process, which means changing
policy.
Inevitably, e-Government will affect economic, legal, and democratic values in the realm of
public administration (Snijkers, 2005). It also supports good governance, which upholds
transparency, accountability, and participation by various stakeholders in society.

EDUCATION
Robertson stated that by 2000, students would be learning with the help of “virtual
communities,” smart agents, and mentor networks and that without schools to staff, teachers
would no longer be necessary (Robertson 1998). Internet technology will be capable of providing
untold new advantages: transmitting, for example, a high-quality, live audiovisual image of the
teachers themselves, thereby allowing them to combine personal and impersonal forms of
distance-based teaching as appropriate.

HEALTH
Our main argument is that internet-based interventions can empower chronically-ill patients by
providing them with informative and support tools that can help them improve their health-
related decision-making, and ultimately increase their quality of life and well-being. Better
disease management by the patient can also result in lower health care costs for the health care
system.

4
AGRICULTURE
Agriculture remains a major driver of economic growth in Nigeria. In the context of the nation’s
vision of becoming one of the 20 largest economy in the world by the year 2020, a vibrant and
technology enabled Agricultural sector is critical for growth in national output, that will support
expansion in the industrial sector, enhance foreign exchange earnings, provide food for the
teeming population, provide gainful employment, create wealth and reduce poverty on a
sustainable basis. The Agricultural sector is also critical for the attainment of a key pillar in the
nation’s Vision 20:2020 economic transformation blueprint; optimizing the key sources of
economic growth to increase productivity and competitiveness, in terms of growth in national
output, and total factor productivity (TFP) (NV 20: 2020, Volume II, page 52).
Food security can only be achieved "when all people at all times have access to sufficient food
for a healthy and productive life, and has three main components: food availability, food access,
and food utilisation" (Haddad 1997). This entails creating effective and efficient agricultural
systems that supply food and foster utilisation of natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Information Technology (IT) can be used to achieve and enhance the agriculture and food
security in Nigeria by its involvement in the following areas:

Soil fertility improvement: The problems of agriculture in Nigeria begin with the soil. Most of
the farmable land in Nigeria contains soil that is low to medium in productivity. According to the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with proper management, the
soil can achieve medium to good productivity. The main problem that affects soil fertility is soil
erosion. Wind erosion, in particular, is quite damaging. Overtime, strong winds expose seedlings
and crop root systems by blowing away loose, fine grain soil particles. Another effect is the
accumulation of soil particles in drifts, which can cover crops. Also, wind erosion changes the
texture of the soil. The particles responsible for water retention and fertility, such as clay, silt,
and organic matter are generally lost, leaving behind a sandy soil
(http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/96690.aspx). Using IT
to carry out soil test - checking nutrient content, alkalinity, and acidity levels before planting of
crops. Also the type of soil present, and reliable for effective germination of crops. Also weather
forecast and climate change detector instruments should be used to determine the climatic
condition adaptable for crop growth.

5
Lack of Investment: IT can be used to generate investment in the agricultural sector by placing
awareness through the internet and other media to the world about benefits on investing in the
country’s agricultural sector.
Impact of Imported and Processed Foods: Nigeria is a net importer of food. The country does
not produce enough food to meet the demand of its people. Generally, there is less incentive for
local farmers to grow local foods, when cheaper, more palatable foods are imported. This forces
local farmers to reduce prices, which reduces the income generated by the farm. The
consequence is decreased farm production. To combat the effects of imported food on
development, several initiatives are suggested, including providing farmers with micro-credit
that is subsidized and increasing tariffs on imported food
(http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/96690.aspx). IT will be
use to notify consumers about the danger in the consumption of imported foods such as
preservatives used in preserving the foods. Letting them know that these foods lack complete
nutrients compared to natural and freshly prepared foods.

EDUCATION
For Nigeria, basic education comprises both the range of formal schooling (private and public) as
well as a wide variety of non-formal education activities offered to meet the learning needs of
groups of people of all ages. However, for this paper, the focus is on IT use in teaching and
learning activities within the formal system of basic education, i.e. schools, comprising the nine
years of basic education which, according to the UBE Act, is free, compulsory and functional.
The broad aim is to give a solid foundation for life-long learning through the inculcation of
appropriate learning-to-learn, self-awareness, citizenship and life skills (FGN 2003). With this
focus, it can be concluded that beyond increasing access to education, ensuring quality is a key
goal of basic education in Nigeria. The need for the changes in the learning process paved way
for IT use in the teaching and learning processes where students are expected to play more active
roles than before. (Alabi 2004)
Benefits of IT
IT can make the school more efficient and productive thereby engendering a variety of tools to
enhance and facilitate professional activities (Kirschner & Woperies 2003) summed it up:

6
• Provide access to education beyond the formal schooling environment, as being used in
some radio, television and web programs to reach children and adults who are not easily
accessible. A case in study is the nomads in Nigeria.
• Within the classroom, IT tools can be used for creative, communicative, collaborative
and task-based activities during instruction in various school subjects especially
mathematics, languages and sciences; as well as encourage self discovery by learners.
• IT tools have been proven to be of significant input in teacher professional development
as quality in education is also dependent on teacher competencies. This is achieved
through access to online journals, joining discussion forums, downloading lesson ideas
and plans, exploiting teaching resources, and record keeping.

Nigeria’s Vision for Integrating IT in Schools.


As a signatory to a number of pacts and treaties to the World declarations on education
(Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals), which also spurred her to develop a
number of policies in this regard, Nigeria also committed herself to the promotion of quality
education through IT. It stipulates that education has to be tailored towards self-realization, right
human relations, individual and national efficiency, effective citizenship, national consciousness,
national unity as well as social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological
progress (NPE 2004, p.7). In order to realize these objectives, IT is emphasized at all levels of
Nigerian education:

• All states, teachers’ resource centres, university institutes of education, and other
professional bodies in education shall belong to the network of IT (section II, sub-section
102(a) p.53).
• Government shall provide facilities and necessary infrastructure for the promotion of IT
and its use as learning tools at all levels of education (section II, subsection 102(d) p.53).
• Virtual library project, aimed at the rejuvenation of the Nigerian schools through
provision of easy access to current books, journals and other information sources using
digital technology was also included.

7
HOW CAN IT ENHANCE EDUCATION
It is imperative for government to demonstrate more serious attitude to the use of IT in schools.
It should start with the provision of facilities, but more importantly, training of teachers.
Olakulehin (2007) noted that it is important that teachers in the training institutions are imbued
with the skills and abilities of IT literacy and sensibilities so that the knowledge and attitude
acquired will cascade onto the learners that they come in contact with in the classrooms when
they begin to practice. There is therefore need to consider how best to integrate specific IT
objectives and resources into the teacher education program.
Nigeria also need to develop a specific policy for IT in education- a national policy for IT in
education will help to locate Nigeria in the emerging global knowledge based economy, coupled
with strategic investment in education to enable greater productivity in the workforce and thus
increased national competitiveness. In harmonizing the efforts in the education sector with the
national effort, the Ministry of Education should have a standard policy for stakeholders to have
inputs to the process of defining a common vision for the systematic integration of Information
and Communications Technology in the education system.

HEALTH

“A health sector that supports and sustains a life expectancy of not less than 70 years and
reduces to the barest minimum the burden of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and
other debilitating diseases.”(NV2020/NCS 2008). This is the projection of the National vision.

Currently, majority of Nigerians do not have access to health care services and where these
services are available, they are either of low quality, unaffordable or there is just not enough to
technology/skill to remedy the health challenges. This situation has left many Nigerians seeking
solutions such as alternative medicine and foreign help. The situation has reduced the average
life expectancy to a mere 48 for Nigerian men.
Some areas in which IT can make an impact on the health sector includes but is not limited to:
• Improve dissemination of public health information and facilitate public discourse and
dialogue around major public health threats
• Enabled remote consultation, diagnosis and treatment through telemedicine

8
• Facilitated collaboration and cooperation among health workers, including sharing of
learning and training approaches
• Support more effective health research and the dissemination and access to research
findings
• Strengthen the ability to monitor the incidence of public health threats and respond in a
more timely and effective manner
• Improve the efficiency of administrative systems in health care facilities.

GOVERNMENT
In the past, Government activities such as budgeting, election, information flow and expenditure
have been carried out through manual means. IT can be used to improve these activities so as to
boost governance and service delivery.
According to the National Vision 2020 it is hoped that by year 2020 “the country will be
peaceful, harmonious and have a stable democracy.” (NV2020/NCS 2008 )
Presently, Nigeria suffers from pockets of crisis including those in the Northern parts like Jos
and the Niger Delta. This crisis are being fuelled partly by Bad governance. The solution lies in
good governance.
Good governance has some major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented,
accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows
the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into
account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is
also responsive to the present and future needs of society.

We highlight the roles of IT in promoting good governance:

Participation: Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good


governance. Participation needs to be informed and organized (Schedler, K. & Scharf, C., 2001).
This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society
on the other hand. IT will provide the best way for citizens to effectively participate in
governance through IT tools like the Internet, mobile phones and news media. Full participation

9
will not leave any ethnic group segregated. This will further national peace, harmony and
democratic stability.
Transparency: Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a
manner that follows rules and regulations (Kramer 1973; Frederickson 2002). It also means
that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such
decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is
provided in easily understandable forms and media and the best forum for making information
freely and cheaply available is through IT tools such as the internet, mobile phones, email etc.

Consensus oriented: There are several actors and as many viewpoints in Nigeria. Good governance
requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in
the best interest of the whole Nation and how this can be achieved (Schedler, K. & Scharf, C., 2001). IT
tools such as online polls should be used to provide a platform for all opinions to be heard.

Responsiveness: Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all
stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe (Sanapo, 2008). In a manually-driven economy this
requirement is difficult to realize due to bureaucratic bottlenecks but IT can be used to remove the
difficulty by bringing in technologically-driven economy. IT tools will ensure timeliness and fairness to
all stakeholders.

Accountability: Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental


institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public
and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to whom varies depending on whether
decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an
organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions.
Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law. IT software system has the
ability of automating and giving precise, accurate and efficient accountability system (Corpuz, 1957).

It has been proven that IT can play a major role in the consolidation of good governance. Some of the
areas where IT roles are invaluable are in the improvement of citizen’s rights and access to government
activities, provision of government services and information about the activities of government amongst
others. It is the view that most of the strategies given in this study can help make the concept of good
governance a reality.

10
CONCLUSION

Nigeria’s economic potential is well recognized. It is the biggest economy in the West African
sub region. Given the country’s considerable resource endowment and coastal location there is
potential for strong growth. Government has declared its intention to pursue the vision of placing
Nigeria among the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. However, the goal must be
supported by a clear and realistic path to its realisation and requires consistent and sustained
effort for its actualization.

The impact of IT in speedy actualization of Nigeria’s vision cannot be over emphasized. The use
of Information Technology (IT) can have a profound impact on the development of a country.
However, the impact on an individual country depends, to an extent, on the attitude of the
government on the role of IT on development.

The use of IT in both economic and societal sectors has become a global trend forcing
developing countries to be part of this trend if they wish to participate in globalisation. For
Nigeria to achieve her vision, IT have to replace the traditional economic factors or at least IT
should be brought to the fore front in national policy making.

RECOMMENDATION
To achieve an IT driven National development, the following should be implemented.
Government should :
• Ensure that IT experts are carried along during the process of policy formulation
• Create an enabling environment for IT to thrive in every sector of the economy
• Ensure that corporate Nigeria contributes to youth empowerment through IT development
• Invest in IT infrastructure development
• Enforce IT appreciation courses at secondary and tertiary levels in all disciplines

11
REFERENCES
Larbi, G. (1999). The New Public Management Approach and Crisis States. United Nations Research Institute for
Social Development (UNRISD) Discussion Paper No. 112, September. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from
http://www.unrisd.org/unrisd/website/document.nsf/0/5F280B19C6125F4380256B6600448FDB?OpenDocument.

Corpuz, O.D., (1957). Bureaucracy in the Philippines. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Institute of Public
Administration, 235-248.

Schedler, K. & Scharf, C. (2001, October). Exploring the Interrelations Between Electronic Government and the
New Public Management: A Managerial Framework for Electronic Government. Paper presented at I3E
Conference, Zurich. No italics for conf paper titles

Sanapo, R. (2008, May 15). Cebu City and Information and Communication Technology. Paper presented at
Electronic Land Markets: The Cebu Initiative, Boracay, Aklan, Philippines.

Larbi, G. (1999). The New Public Management Approach and Crisis States. United Nations Research Institute for
Social Development (UNRISD) Discussion Paper No. 112, September. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from
http://www.unrisd.org/unrisd/website/document.nsf/0/5F280B19C6125F4380256B6600448FDB?OpenDocument.

Snijkers, K. (2005). E-Government: ICT from a Public Management Perspective. Paper presented at the 13th
Annual NISPAcee Conference, Moscow Russia, May 19-21.

Friedman, T. (2005). The World is Flat. MIT World, Retrieved June 18, 2008 from
http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/266/.

Lam, J. (1997). Transformation from Public Administration to Management: Success and Challenges of Public
Sector Reform in Hong Kong. Public Productivity & ManagementReview, 20 (4), June, 405-418. Retrieved August
25, 2008 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3380681.

http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/96690.aspx

The First National Implementation Plan (2010 – 2013); Volume II: Sectoral Plans and Programmes, May 2010.

www.fao.org/sd/cddirect/cdre0055b.html

Federal Government of Nigeria (1999). Universal Basic Education for Nigeria. Proceedings of education mini
summit, Abuja. Zaria: ABU press
Federal Ministry of Education (1988). National Policy on Computer Education. Lagos
Federal Ministry of Science & Technology, (2001). National Policy for Information Technology.
[http://www.nitda.gov/docs/policy/ngitpolicy.pdf]
Olakulehin, F. K. (2007). Information and Communication Technologies in teacher training and professional
development in Nigeria. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 8(1), 133-142.
Yusuf, M. O. (2005a) Information and Communication Technology and education: analyzing the Nigerian national
policy for information technology. International Education Journal 6(3), 316-321
Alabi, A. (2004). Evolving role of ICT in teaching, research and publishing. Nigerian Tribune, Friday, 30 April, 30-
31.
Oyenike Adeosun, Ph.D. (2010), Quality Basic Education Development in Nigeria: Imperative for Use of ICT,
Department of Arts & Social Sciences Education, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Nigeria

12
13