Nweke, Eugene N.
Department of Political Science
Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki
Has the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) changed the face of public service delivery in Nigeria? This paper investigates this question as it focuses on the role of information and communication technologies in public institutions, agencies or departments that have embraced electronic service delivery in carrying out their public obligations and responsibilities. The study delved into rudimentary process of clarifying the concepts of Administrative governance and information and communication technologies (ICTs). It further explained the application of Interactive -service theory of information and communication technology which emphasizes that digital communication relationship of personnel and public are made more convenient in public service delivery as it gives staff and citizens a two-way exchange of relationship with public service delivery. The benefits of applying information and communication technologies in delivering public service include; reduced cost of administration, improved fast and accurate Service Delivery, transparency and accountability, increased intergovernmental relation. In this light, the historical developments of information and communication technologies in Nigeria are accessed for purpose of understanding the state of acceptance and application. However, (ICTs) applications are threatened by lack of; political wills, infrastructure, skills, attitudinal change for adaptation, high pricing and lack of public confidence. The paper concludes that public [private partnership is recommended for faster utilization of digital ‘ technologies in service delivery in public sector.
Keywords: Administrative governance and Information and communication technologies (ICTs)
Information communication technologies have rapidly diffused not only in private industries but also in public sector. Public sector plays a very important role in social and economic model by supporting high levels of welfare for citizens, ensuring administrative efficiency and promoting the functioning of competitive administrative environment It does these by engaging in a wide range of activities from education, healthcare and social security to protecting consumers and strengthening the environment. However, Nigeria’s public sector today, is at crossroads as it faces challenges of market economy that is driving reforms across the globe. These reforms in administrative governance as demanded by new public management (NPM) is affecting the mode of service delivery, organizational structural change and institutional change. Within the public sector, the public administrators are not left out as they face the challenges of improving the efficiency, productivity and quality of their services. All these challenges rising from new public sector management, though appear insurmountable, can be improved through application of information and communication technologies (ICTs). This is one of the promises of digital revolution which introduces the new dimension, electronic technology, for helping public administrators cope with these challenges. This accounts for Public administrators to embrace the adoption of digital technologies in a bid to cope with organisational changes and new skills required to improve public service delivery.
Digitalized service delivery, though practiced in Nigeria, is essentially an imported concept based on imported designs. An electronic delivery strategy in public management is not only about the automation of the current way of delivering services/business. It is about carrying out government responsibility by using collaborative transactions and process required by the government departments to function effectively and economically, promoting innovation and competition in a bid to improve the quality of services to the citizens.
There are growing numbers of information technology projects, some of which are contributing to public sector governance and delivering gains of efficiency and/or effectiveness across a broad agenda.
The practices and applications of electronic technology in public sector management in both developed and developing countries show, that, it is a powerful means indeed of delivering better quality public services, reducing waiting time, red tape, raising productivity and improve transparency and accountability.
Given the fact that e-government raises difficult issues such as safeguarding of public document/secret, trust, confidence in online interaction with governments, digital divide, cost, political willingness and leadership and resistance of mind set of people, the burden of this paper is discussing;
- Conceptualization of Administrative governance andInformation and Communication Technologies.
- Theoretical framework of explanation and analysis
- The development and application of information and communication technologies initiatives in Nigeria’s public sector.
- The difference of applying information and communication technologies in administrative governance in Nigeria.
Conceptualizations of Administrative Governance and Information communications technologies (ICTs)
There is need to discuss the concept of governance to enhance/ the understanding of administrative governance. Governance is a concept that has developed considerably since it emerged in discussions of development issues around the late 1980s. As Isabella (1997:1) notes that “the first classic political science essays on the subject talked about the concept of governability, which made the rule of law the concept of governance, defined as redesigning or reinventing public administration in the broad sense of the term, to meet the new challenges of development in era of globalization”. The term governance can be used in two broad concepts. The first is in a technicist form, which essentially refers to the management of state structures and institutions. This is a statist conception of governance (World Bank, 1989, 1994, 2000), which emphasis the day to day affairs of government. The second is that which transcends the purview of the state to include non-state actors, that is, organized private sector, civil society groups, artisans and other relevant groups that manage their activities outside government confines. Governance according to (Kaufmann 2003:5) refers to “the exercise of authority through formal and informal channels for the common good”. In the definition of UNDP (1996) governance is “the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a society’s affairs”. In this light, governance though not new, means different things to different people. The actual meaning therefore depends on the level of governance considered and goals targeted. Against the background, administrative governance is the managerial competence of public sector to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions through civil service, public financial management, public enterprise, strategic planning and programme evaluation.
On the other hand, Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are a concept that means different things to different people. Very often people associate ICTs with computers, the World Wide Web (www) and the Internet. This hinges on degrees of appreciation, understanding and utilization; it is a digital way of engaging transaction with customers or clients. While the term certainly attracted attention because of these, ICTs still refer to any artifact, technique or knowledge used to create, store, manage and disseminate information, it is simply “lending old technologies new relevance” (Hewitt de Alcantra 2001: 8) In principle, ICT has always been available. The only difference is that in this era, rapid advances in technology have changed the traditional ways in which information was processed, communications and conducted resulting from the following four characteristics; (1) Interactivity: for the first time ICTs are effective two-way communication technologies. The flow of information can be interacted with, information is no longer only received, but it can be created and offered more easily, (2) Permanent availability: the new ICTs are available 24 hours a day. (3) Global reach: geographic distances hardly matter anymore. (4) Reduced costs: for many people, costs of communication have shrunk to a fraction of previous values and are relatively cheap. This allows for new opportunities for networking and new options for reaching set goals in a more efficient way. (Gester and Zimmermann 2003:7-8)
ICTs include telegraph, telecommunications, radio, television, computers, Internet services and wireless technologies. While radio and telephone have a long histories demonstrating their utility in developing countries, ‘modern’ ICTs like the Internet or wireless mobile phones are just starting to prove their usefulness in Nigeria.
The World Bank (2002) defines ICTs as the set of activities that facilitate the capturing, storage, processing, transmission and display of information by electronic means. This is what is regarded as e-government. E-govemment is multidimensional and complex concept, which requires broader understanding. As World Bank (2001) defines, e-government is the government owned or operated systems of information and communication technologies that transform relations with citizens, the private sector and / or other government agencies so as to promote citizens empowerment, improve service delivery, strengthen accountability, increase transparency, or improve government efficiency. (htt://www.world bank.org/datawai2003). In another perspective, Abramson and Meaus, (2001) defines e-government as the electronic interaction, transaction and information exchange between the government, the public (citizens and business) and employees. UNPA &ASPA, (2001) notes that, e-governance is the public sector’s use of the most innovative information and communication technologies, like the internet, to deliver to all citizens improved services, reliable information and greater knowledge in order to facilitate access to the governing process and encourage deeper citizen participation.
Stressing further, commission of the European Communities (CEC 2003:567) states that e-government is the use of “information and communication technologies in public administration combined with organisational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic process and strengthen support to public policies”. The above definitions have convergence on basic concern of e-government on improving efficiency and effectiveness, giving access to greater range of information and bridging the gap between the citizens and the state. Along this thought, Hirst and Norton (1998) conclude that the nature of e-government encompasses three critical transformations: internal, external and relational. Internal refers to the use of ICTs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal functions and process of government by interrelating different departments and agencies. Thus, information can flow much faster and more easily among different governmental departments, reducing processing time, paperwork bottlenecks and eliminating long, bureaucratic and inefficient approval procedures. It equally facilitates storing and collecting data, reduction of labour costs and information handling cost and the speed and accuracy of time processing.
External- ICT opens up new possibilities for government to be more transparent to citizens and business, giving access to a greater range of information collected and generated by government.
Relational-ICT adoption may enable fundamental changes in the relationships between the citizens and the state. Its implications for the democratic process and horizontal integration of services can be realized, by enabling the integration of information and services from various government agencies to help citizens and other stakeholders get seamless. As (Ndou2004) (http://www.ejisidie.org) identifies, to realize these, four main groups constitute e-government. The electronic transactions and interactions revolve on government, citizens, businesses and employees. Whereas the government is the centre, the other three depend on it. Among these three, employee is often not considered. Therefore, in this connection, four main groups of e-govemment web of relationships are identified as,
- Government to Citizen (G2C)
- Government to Business (G2B)
- Government to Government (G2G)
- Government to Employees (G2E)
Their characterisations are discussed here under;
- Government- to- citizens (G2C) allows government agencies to talk, listen, relate and continuously communicate with its citizens, supporting, in this way accountability, democracy and improvements to public services. This interaction enables citizen access government information and services more conveniently by the use of multiple channels (PC, Web TV, mobile phones or wireless device. In this perspective, Riley (2001) adds that this broad interaction enhances delivery of services and provision of welfare and health. The associated benefit includes increasing citizen’s participation in policy process of government.
- Government- to- Business (G2B) is an electronic transaction between government agencies and private business. This occurs when government engages in e-procurement and the development of an electronic market place for the purpose of transaction. In this capacity, the government to business (G2B) online transaction with government lowers the burden of red tape in public service delivery.
- Govemment-to-Government (G2G) is transactional and interactional relationship between government and its agencies, other foreign (nations) countries. In these web relations, government depends on other levels of governmental within the state to effectively deliver services and allocate responsibilities. (Riley 2001). This single access point of (G2G) enable government agencies and departments share databases, resources and skills that promote efficiency and effectiveness in public administration process.
- Government to Employees (G2E) is an interactive relational cooperation between government and employees. Its benefits include giving the staff access to join together through administration to share ideas. This practice promotes team spirit. While the employees have access to such information as compensations and other rights. To Riley (2001) it is also a strategic and tactical mechanism for encouraging the implementation of government goals and programs as well as human resource management, budgeting and accounting. However, these complex webs remain unrealizable if basic essentials for e-government implementation do not exist. Heeks, (2001) therefore identities these essentials to include:
E-administration, which computerises and automates administrative tasks for realisation of
strategic connections among internal processes, departments and function.E-citizens and e-services are required for automated delivery of services. E-society enables relationships and
interactions beyond boundaries, public agencies, private sector andcivil community in general. The emphasise is that e-government willremain a dream if public sector organisation, the citizens and entiresociety are not trained, informed andknowledgeable in It e-initiatives.
Thus, ICT should be viewed not only as a sector in competition with others for scarce resources, but also as a cost-effective tool to enable all sectors to meet human needs better than through traditional means alone.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) initiatives in Nigeria
Nigeria’s profile in Technology Development Indicator as adapted from ITU (2002) and UNDP (2003) studies show that information technology growth rate ratio stands at 0.33 per 100 inhabitants who own personal computers (PCs) while internet hosts per 10,000 inhabitants is at 0.09.These level of growth in e-government initiatives and appreciation explains how much Nigeria needs IT policies that could enable it join developed nations in this era of digital governance. This is the driving force that informed the reform hypothesis in Nigeria’s public administration with some facts about the formulated national policy on information and communication technology targeted at its effective application in public service delivery, Nigeria, unlike the developed nations has not been so fortunate in making breakthrough in ICT, as such, has made it more difficult to experience e-government in public service delivery.
However the policy of federal government of Nigeria reiterates the political will to take the initiative to make data available to citizens after putting necessary policy framework into action. The actual case of e-government initiative is traceable to Obasanjo regime of 1999, when Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) was properly constituted (Vanguard 2/10/02). By March 2001, the ministry of science and technology established a National IT development Agency (NITDA) to serve as a bureau for implementation. The NITDA embarked on number of projects that are making the dream of using IT for development in Nigeria. Some of these projects include public service network (PSNet), Mobile Internet Unit (MIU) and Human Capacity Development. The Federal Government of Nigeria in addition took the following steps in to address her IT policy by liberalising the sector by licensing of Global System for Mobile communication with the launch of GSM in August 2001. In April 2003, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) organised the e-Nigeria conference with the following objectives;
– Transformation to citizen-centred, simple, moral, accountable, responsive and Transparent (SMPRT) governance.
– Strategies for IT policy implementation
– Security issues
– Legal issues creating enabling environment for IT development
- Sectoral applications of IT, education, health management, transportation, finance, commerce and national civil registration.
- Launching of the mobile internet unit (MIU).
The degree of application of IT in Nigeria’s public administration reflects in growing wave of plans and consequent establishment of corporate presence on World Wide Web by launching website. The federal government has now officially directed all ministry and other agencies to run a functional website by the end of 2006. As a follow up in this line of policy, the governments of Nigeria have made it mandatory for public officers to undergo ICT training for the purpose of furthering e-governance in public service.
Some agencies in federal government of Nigeria that have been fully integrated into the e-initiative include;
– Abuja geographical information system (AGIS) online land registration.
- National Youth Service Corps (NYSC online)
- West African Examinations Council (WAEC) direct
- Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB)
- Automated System for Customs Data (ASTCUDA)
- National Examination Council (NECO)
- Post-cash of Nigeria postal service
- National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
- Electronic voters registration
- Online payment of fees in most tertiary institution
- Online display of admission into most Nigerian university.
- E-passport of Nigerian immigration
These and other areas as polynet, electronic central motor registration (ECMR) records, and others are proposed for public service delivery. These developments in computers and associated digital revolution have potentials that benefit public administration in relations to Nigeria’s environment which is at emerging stage like all developing countries. As the report of an e-government benchmark study conducted by the American Society For Public Administration (ASPA, 2001) reveals, nearly all 32 countries at emerging stage of an online presence were developing nations, characterised by static and insufficient information that is infrequently updated, few interactive features and non-existent online services.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and administrative governance in Nigeria
The possible of information communication technologies as a reform agent for developing countries in administrative governance are received with diverse opinions. This accounts for the link between ICT applications, optimization of government operations and achievement of important social development goals which is a very convincing argument as far as the continued development of e-government is concerned. Therefore to make balanced assessment of (ICTs) in managing public sector, theoretical justification and analysis, the plus points and constriction are discussed.
Theoretical analysis of electronic service delivery
The evolvementof e-government is source of debate and concern as there is no “grand theory” that explains circumstances or factors that influenced the development of e-government. This stems from the fact that e-government is perceived from the perspective of the organisation or the person applying digital technology in government business. According to Government Technology (www.govtech.net/center/so3venter/e-gov/ind)
Much of the interest in e-government is owed to the fact that, electronic government improves the “business of government “by creating more efficient and convenient constituent to-government, business to government, and even government-to-government interaction. This is a powerful proposition for the government segment, which is often asked to do “me for less”. Those jurisdictions that have begun to put this theory to the test have been pleased with results.
The observation of government technology is correct to the extent that e-government in public sector service delivery is embraced for its convenience and interactive ability.
Besides, electronic government equally serves as the tool for reformation of bureaucracy. That is, it has the capacity of taking public service from its tradition of “red tape” to “one-centre service” through information technology. Given these characteristics, one generic model “interactive-service theory” is adopted to explain the desired objective of electronic technology in administrative governance in Nigeria.
The interactive-service model” is a consolidation of earlier digital governance models and opens up avenues for direct participation of individual in a digital process. (Ariel Halachimi 2004) In this model, individuals in a digital network, interact in a two-way information flow among them. The potential for public service delivery is fully leveraged with greater objectivity and transparency in decision-making processes. The services offered by government in this capacity become directly available to citizens in an interactive manner. They are four channels of inflow and out flow in this model which includes; government to government (G2G), government to citizen (G2C), government to business (G2B) and government to employees (G2E). The essence of this, is that it allows, election of government officials (e-balloting) redressing online of specific grievances, sharing of concerns and providing expertise, opinion polls on various issues, exchange of ideas, information etc. Within this perspective, the strength of this model lies in the infinite capacity of digital networks to open up one point intergovernmental relationships required for convenient and efficient service delivery expected of public administration. This is the seal of modern information communication technologies (ICTs).
The interactive capacity of modern ICTs as explained by this model has shown lots of benefits. This study examines the ascribed gains associated with digital technology. As European commission a study (2003) asserts, the ICT driven governance enables the public sector to maintain and strengthen good governance in the knowledge society, creates a public sector that is open and transparent, governments that are understandable, accountable to the citizens and open to democratic involvement and scrutiny. It also ensures that a public sector is at the service of all, promotes a productive public sector that delivers maximum value for taxpayers’ money, less time is wasted standing in queues, errors are drastically reduced, more ties is available for professional face-to-face service and the jobs of civil servants can become rewarding.
In addition, the introduction of e- governance in public service deliver; enabled by digital technology has offered farther benefits as, Niou (2004) observes that, if developing nations appropriately apply e-government initiative, it will reduce the number of inefficiencies in processes by allowing file and data sharing across government department, thereby contributing to the elimination of mistakes from manual procedures, reducing the required time for transactions. It is noteworthy that cost of running administration has been on the rise and application of e-initiatives has capacity of providing cheaper administrative cost. By this practice, ICT application in public service delivery reforms public administration process by streamlining internal processes which enable faster and more informed decision making and transaction process. Also, the personnel trained in the use of ICTs facilities comparatively perform with better efficiency and effectiveness than the counterparts without similar knowledge, who depend on traditional style of public administration, that provide for long and time-consuming period resulting from red-tape in its bureaucratic procedures. So the applications of ICTs can actually debureacratize administrative governance. This therefore account for a support for a significant reform in Nigeria’s public administration to make public sectors exploit e-government initiatives. For instance, the adoption of electronic transaction as enabled by ICTs in public sectors as NYSC online, JAMB online, the Abuja Geographical information system (AGIS) and host of others have made service delivery to the citizens more convenient. The time usually taken, loss of document ,delay in responding to requests and cases of kick backs often experienced, in such public transactions are drastically reduced, more especially, the idea of repeated visit to offices from far distance which takes toll on resources. Also, ICT allows for service delivery outside normal office hours. Ndou (2004) agrees to this, argument, as he adds that, an e-government initiative, on other hand, which puts government services online thereby reducing the bureaucracy, offers round the clock accessibility, fast and convenient transactions and obviously enhanced the quality of services, in forms of time, constant and accessibility. In similar practice, intergovernmental and international communication relations with other private /public agencies are made faster and convenient. The instances of these reflect on e-mails which are taking over surface mails in our offices.
E-government has already demonstrated significant capacity for citizens to have greater access to information from public authorities. Public service delivery improves citizens’ participation in public sector management which is enhanced through ICTs. The opportunity generated in this perspective helps increase the transparency of decisions as citizens and governments/public agencies interact through e-governance process are allowed to contribute and exchange ideas and suggestions in electronic forum and web sites. The reform which is presently experienced through e-government initiatives in Nigeria’s pubic administration has created opportunity to bureaucrats and citizens to have access to official information and transaction which are previously classified. This invariably enables government to harvest more data from operational systems through increment in the quality of feedback to managerial and policy levels. The emphasise is that government to citizens relationships enabled by ICTs, which abinitio created suspicion are reduced as more information are made available by support of new kinds of on-line communication between policy makers ,elected representatives individual citizens, or organised lobbies.
Information communication technology (ICTs) provides network of relationship among governments, customers, business, employees and other agencies. The successful use and diffusion of ICTs in the public sector involves a collective, multidisciplinary and dynamic learning process (Mansell and Wehn, 1998). This is the case of such public agencies as NYSC, JAMB and the likes that have provided conveniences in public administration of the affected establishment. As Ndou (2004) aptly notes, the very nature and function of e-governments require network approach to put together skills, technologies, information and knowledge that span the boundaries of difference governmental agencies. The application of e-government therefore enhances the practice of enterprise resource planning (ERP) which is an integrated business system that ties all the various functions of an enterprise (finance, human resource management etc) into a cohesive system on a common database. In the views of Wescot, Pizzaro and Schiavo-Campo (1999) , ERP system may be integrated with the internet (e-mail, messaging)electronic commerce and workflow.ERP presents opportunities to the public sector in the areas of financial management treasury/cash management, human resources management including , payroll, records management and benefit administration ;and facilities /resource management, including procurement forecasting and material management. Therefore, such establishment of integrated online network in governments enhances data sharing that facilitates feedback. The OECD argues along this thought as it notes, that strengthening relationship between citizens could improve the quality of services by allowing government tap wider sources of information, perspectives and solution to meet the challenges of policy making under conditions of increased complexity (OECD, 2000).In addition, services like online delivery of scanned file attachment mails speed up bureaucratic transaction in public process. These possibilities are reducing red tape and similar lapses often related in service delivery in public sector. Above all e-Government initiatives in public sector enable staff to interact, transact and communicate electronically with business, citizens and other stakeholders, it is necessary to mandate the use of ICT tools and applications for development of new forms of citizen participation which gives rise to empowerment, participation, coordination, decentralization, social learning and connecting communities of practice. As (Kuye and Naidooo 2003:3) added “efficiencies can be achieved through the sharing of data among departments ,and the provision of single window of service delivery .with the use of networks and information sharing organization boundaries do not serve as impediments to service delivery”
The one “one point” access as enabled by ICTs has provided service delivery for public administration as it competes with private sector in qualitative and productive services. This development is commendable when we recall that private sectors were on top in the use of ICTs prior to digitalization of public services. The automated custom system data (Asycuda),electronic immigration passport/visa application, Nipost postcash, and other similar initiatives are examples of e-government potentials in reforming public administration for increased productivity and competitiveness. In the view of Mansell and Wehn (1998) e-government plays a vital role, not only in facilitating market led initiatives but also in initiating the process of capability building and in coordinating the actions of a large number of interested stakeholders. The point here is that the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has made public service to strive towards performing in the capacity of private sectors. It is in line with these competitive attributes that public sectors employ the e-governance initiatives so as to remain relevant in the managing public goods.
ICTs, are a learning revolution that has given rise to the learning economy, learning Organizations, life-long learning (ILO, 2001; UN, 1998).Accordingly, individuals, firms, and countries are able to create wealth and obtain access to wealth in proportion to their capacity to learn (Lundvall, 1996; Drucker 1993). Not only does this technological change create new demands for learning and raise the bar for skills to function in the workplace, but it also offers novel and powerful new pedagogies for learning and creativity. It has increasingly ignited the zeal of getting training and knowledge among public officers in a bid to cope with the new demands of performing public service. In addition, it is becoming compulsory for every public servant to undergo IT training as pre-qualification for securing job in both public and private sector. Therefore, this increases their capacity to accessing information and knowledge with dramatic increase in the power and speed to access, process, adapt, and organize information. This, in turn, has accelerated learning, innovation, and knowledge creation and dissemination. This is acknowledged by (kirkman 2002) who noted that, the impact of ICT on these attributes may be in its infancy, since ICT is still undergoing revolutionary change, and much of these technologies are yet to diffuse to the majority of mankind.
Constrictions to successful application of information communication technologies (ICTs) in Administrative governance in Nigeria
There is no doubt that e-government initiative as a tool for administrative governance in Nigeria is heralded as the new way for improving service delivery but threatened. As Heeks (2003) notes, the implementations of e-government in developing countries fall, with 35% being classified as total failures and 50% as partial failures. This is a challenge and a disturbing fact for a developing country like Nigeria that has lots of limitations. As such critical issues have to be addressed in order to scale up more convenient user- friendly and wider application of e-government initiative in public service. The area of interest that deserves urgent attention and political commitment revolves on the following issues; political will, infrastructure, skills, change, public confidence and dependence. The challenge of leadership and political willingness is greatly a variable deterring e-government initiative in reforming public administration. Like other developing Nations, political influence, and accountability are threats facing the management of e-government in public sector of Nigeria. This condition is supported by Ciborra (2005) views that hold that the notion of e-government on its own is not suited for developing countries to obtain the associated benefits; and that instead political and social changes are required alongside the implementation of electronic mediums. He adds, where failures due to governance breakdown, corruption, rent seeking, distortions in markets and the absence of democracy are addressed before e-government can be implemented within it. The willingness of public officer mangers -and leaders is key factor in every new initiative such as e-government. Given the complex process, high costs, risks and challenges, public organisation as well as their leaders have resisted e-government initiatives due to ignorance. policy issues and obsolete rules and regulations. Therefore, Ndou (2004) maintains that leadership is necessary before, during and after project implementation. Besides, the leader is required during implementation of e-government initiatives to manage change and provide of feasibility and adaptability of the programme, (McClure (2001)argues that top leadership involvement and clear lines of accountability for making management improvements are critical to overcoming organisations natural resistance to change, marshalling the resources needed to improve management and building and maintaining the organisation wide commitment to new ways of doing government, The leadership of governments in Nigeria have not demonstrated sufficient commitments to development of e-government as the federal government and few state governments are still at the stage of having web presence only.
Associated with political will is the enactment of legislations that guide practices of the application of e-government as a administrative strategy in public administration. This is a barrier as it stems from obsolete regulations and laws that still exist in Nigeria, as new regulations in the use of e-government initiative are not yet to exist for the purpose addressing abuses and emerging cyber crime in the world, which has introduced new dimensions of fraud and corruption. The challenge of legislation though global, is very essential for protections and legal reforms needed to ensure recognition of electronic interactions. The challenge of legislation is further made complex by delay in passing of IT bill into law which is required to give legal backing to the establishment of NITDA for sustenance sake.
The digital divide between the developed and developing countries is among other issues due to level of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure for e-government initiative. As Heidegger (l 978), notes that the essence of technology is not something technical ,or a means to an end. Instead, the essence is a revealing that challenges the world by ordering a concrete infrastructure. Therefore Infrastructure as noted in the study of Tapscott (1996) is required to enable internet provide appropriate sharing of information and open up new channels for communication and delivery of new services. In addition the slow rate of software development, which is a key component of infrastructure, remains a threat to e-government initiative. The study of Soriyan and Heeks (2004) in Nigeria puts software firms development at, service imported applications is 51%, developing and servicing local applications 25% and servicing and developing local and imported applications24%. As the study further notes, it means that three-quarter of firms relied wholly or partly on services-such as installation or modification-related to foreign packages .There was no indigenous development of software tools ,and there was certainly a perception of growing penetration of the market by foreign products that were displacing locally developed applications. The implication is that focus shifted to training or internet based services. Lesson from this, though improving, still poses danger to e-government and other IT policies for service delivery in Nigeria’s’ public sector. Therefore, this handicap has to be taken into consideration by government in order to get rid of the problems of ICT infrastructure, as rightly observed by World Bank report (2003) which states that, between richer countries and developing areas in large with high income economics having 416 personal computers per 1,000 peoples and low-income economics only 6 per 1000.
The gap in the provision of new ICTs is much larger within and among countries than income disparities in this regards, benefiting from ICT requires complementary investments and skills, including literacy. Threshold effects are also at work: network externalities, scale economies, lack of local content in local languages, fragmented markets for software applications, and high cost of access for remote areas factors that lead to or reinforce poverty traps and economic isolation for poor communities. Poor and disadvantaged groups, particularly women, often face special constraints in accessing ICT and using them for their specific needs. Unequal access can worsen existing inequities. The risks of economic exclusion suggest that countries should be concerned with the level of connectivity and ICT provision and with enabling access and deploying ICT and content in ways that expand relevant information for the poor, increase their voice in decision making, and address bottlenecks to their trade (Hanna,N 1991).
Lack of computer skills and understanding besides the death of ICT infrastructure, e-government initiative lacks ICT skills in public services delivery. The UNPA& ASPA(200I) notes this as the particular problem in developing countries, where the chronic lack of qualified staff and inadequate human resources training has been a problem for years. The problem hinges on the availability human capacities that have technical skills, for installation, maintenance, designing and implementation of ICT infrastructure, the requirements for improved skill and understanding of ICTs include, e-readiness and ICT literacy is desired in order for people to benefit from e-government initiative. Human capacity development is also a basic for applying e-initiative in administrative reform given the low qualification of personnel in IT professional in Nigeria. The study of Soriyan and Heeks (1999) shows qualifications of IT Personnel in Nigeria software firms as; secondary school qualifications only -15%, first degree or diploma or equivalent = 36%, first degree plus masters degree=23%, first degree plus masters plus professional qualification =23% and PhD =3%. These figures of personnel in IT profession and services in part are signs of inadequate skills while shows gradual increase in personnel and skill development. A risk in this regards is that efforts to bridge the digital divide may have the effect of .locking developing countries into “a new form of dependency” (Wade, 2002). Developing countries may be trapped by a software-hardware “anus race,” which is driven by wealthier and better-educated consumers and big companies in industrial countries, leading to ever-growing complexity. To get out of this; Ndou (20004) suggests addressing human capital development issues, knowledge management initiatives are required focusing on staff training, seminars, workshops in order to create the basic skills for e-government handling. The implication is that most e-government initiatives and facilities in public sector such as computers and telecommunication equipments are fast becoming decorative ornaments in offices as either the human capital required to use them is lacking or there are no trainings and knowledge.
Adapting to change is another challenge, though change is a constant phenomenon but, difficult to be followed due to resistance. The resistance could be a factor of culture, labour, ideological and inertia of the options and habits. The trend degenerates to resistance resulting from conservatism. Among these factors, culture is most challenging. In this vein, Delsi (1990) classifies culture as the primary driver of strategic organizational change. The most evident cause of resistance to ICT application is obtainable among employees who are scared of replacement and consequently cause job losses and other benefits that result from altering traditional hierarchy which is the fundamental of cultural values in government bureaucracy. Bhatnagar (2001) in his study notes that resistance to change from public staff was one of the major problems encountered in this endeavour. The revenue department staff were those who caused most problems as they stood to lose the income received from bribes.Some staff feared job losses ,some others were reluctant to learn and use the new technology and new work practices. Several meetings and performance reviews were organized to persuade staff to become accountable and to motivate them for better performance. To make e-government realise its potential, the prospective users of the ICT infrastructure should be reoriented in line with new technological development in public service. Equally, due to difficulty in turning off old traditions and ways of a life, incentives and benefits are recommended for the transiting employees to learn and charge attitude that enhance e-government ideals in the public sector.
Many individuals groups and public organisations have no confidence and trust in e-governments initiative, especially as the question of data protection, network and information security within the environment is concerned. The abuse of online document and forgery scares both individual and public administration from depending on ICT. For example the presence of JAMB online, NECO and similar establishments in Nigeria, has led to forging of documents online (cyber crime) since users now take results and document. As a result, personal data, authentication, and identify management are compromised. The Green paper on e-commerce, 2000:47) advocates, with respect to enhancing users sense of privacy protection in the online environment, government regulation could play an important role through specific legislation, to require website operators and database owners to confirm to certain standards regarding the use of data.
Therefore, the difficulty in securing the public transactions and communication remains a threat that has encouraged resistance of adopting e-government initiative in the new public management in Nigeria. So, if ICT application in public service delivery must receive boost, citizens and government should always be able to control access to their data, and how these data have been stored, used, accessed and protected. To this end, the use of privacy-enhancing technologies should be favoured to avoid breaching the law. These considerations are necessary to raise confidence and trust in embracing ICT in public sector governance and reduce resistance of new technology.
Another threat that requires attention as application of ICTs in public service delivery is concerned reflects on the need to secure appropriate pricing and service responsibilities. The prices charged by telecommunication industry are an important factor in determining the effectiveness and affordability of electronic model opportunities on the whole. It is obvious that high cost charged by telecom operators make it extremely difficult to both public officials to connect thereby limit the benefits.
By and large, a number of countermeasures are to be undertaken to ensure that the electronic abuse and misuse do not rear its ugly head so as to secure administrative governance.
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