Anambra State ICT Agency has taken its digitization drive to the State House of Assembly targeted at guaranteeing citizens access to the State Laws and other legislative instruments digitally.
The ICT Agency’s delegation led by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, met with the Speaker of the House, the Right Honourable Somto Udeze and the majority leader, Hon Ikenna Ofodeme.
The strategic meeting provided the platform for the ICT agency to unveil its plans for the digitization of the State legislative processes and to seek the collaboration of the House to bring them to fruition.
Addressing the legislators, the MD/CEO of Anambra ICT Agency, Mr Agbata congratulated Udeze on his emergence as the speaker of the 8th Assembly in the state, adding that the visit aimed to express the support of the agency for his regime as speaker and to seek new areas of collaboration.
He said since Mr Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, assumed office and kick-started the ‘Everything Technology and Technology Everywhere’ vision, the ICT agency had taken various initiatives aimed at bringing all arms of the government on board the vision.
CFA explained that the visit to the House is critical because of how strategic its entire processes are to the effective functioning of the machinery of governance in the state.
“As an agency with the mandate of government to drive the governor’s digitization vision, we have identified areas of improvement in the online presence of the House. We want to see how we can ensure that proceedings of the House are digitized to enable constituents of the various members of the House, have a feel of the efforts of their representatives here at the floor of the House.
“Lagos State House of Assembly has a portal for the House, with pages for the members, where their works, the Bills they have sponsored and things like that are captured for easy access by the constituents. This is a positive model we can borrow as a forward-looking state.
“We also want to get the members of the State House a dormain name and email addresses, to ease communication among the legislators. In the state civil service, what the agency has done is to move all civil servants under the same dormain name, www. anambra.gov.ng.
“That is what we want to do here as a way of ensuring data on the state are centralized so that we end the era of data loss as a result of hiring of private consultants to do the work of data collection and processing.
“We are also looking to see how we can work with the House to reproduce all the laws and bye-laws of the state in digital formats, so that in the event of any mishap, we will not be losing so much, as they must have been backed up in the cloud.
“We are also doing citizens’ engagement, working on series of platforms to see that Anambra people are in the know as to all the projects the government is doing and be able to verify that. We are seeing how we can interface with Google map to give real time data on some of the projects.
“We are also working with the Budget and Economic Planning to automate the 2024 Budget and we are hoping that the next budget will be an automated one, albeit with a physical copy.
“These are all we want to see how we can collaborate with the House to ensure their realization. It’s one Anambra and Mr Governor has that vision of a liveable and prosperous smart city and as an agency, we are playing our part effectively but we need every support we can get,” Agbata explained.
On his part, the Tech Partnership and Digital Investment Lead in the State ICT, Jude Emesim emphasized the Citizens’ engagement initiative, which he said, will allow constituents’ inputs in the legislative processes is unfettered.
This he also pointed out, will help bridge the gap between the elected members and the constituents.
Responding, the Speaker of the House, Right Hon Udeze said the 8th Assembly under his watch is committed to doing things differently in line with the governor’s vision for the state.
According to him, Mr Governor’s vision of disruptive change is what is driving his exploits at the House, because he strongly believes that things must change, if the state must progress.
The speaker acknowledged that the ICT Agency’s plans to bring ICT into the state legislative processes is what the House has been yearning for.
“We are however, constrained by a major challenge to the digitization process- finance.
“It is regrettable that everything done in the House is still in the analogue compared to other states nearby. I also recognize the fact that it is not the fault of the assembly but the system of governance adopted by previous administrations.
“That is why I want to assure you that the 8th Assembly will embrace technology to ease its processes and ensure it is effective in fulfilling its obligations as an arm of government,” he said.
Right Hon Udeze opined that documentation of the state laws in digital format will give the people access, reduce duplication of legislative efforts and ensure absence of conflict of motions and laws.
He said; “I will write to the Commissioner for justice to know where the state stopped in terms of gazetting laws so that it can be followed up.
“Also, inability to automate the state budgetary processes has caused so much problems for the state, especially during the last administration of Governor Willie Obiano.
“I therefore endorse that the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary needs to deploy technology to manage its operations.
“This should also reflect in the revenue collection processes of the state to ensure that government monies come into the coffers of the state government.”
Contributing, the majority leader of the House, Hon Ofodeme commended the MD/CEO of the State ICT Agency, saying “I know he always project things that are very hard but they are quite gainful things.
“We are open to innovations and technology and the area your agency is handling will touch all aspects of the state economy.
“I am happy we have Mr Speaker who is very thorough about everything and will think things through and I assure you that he will endorse any positive engagement that will yield in the best interest of Anambra people.
“I also encourage you to look deep into how we can use technology to address the security challenges in the state, to see how the government can start helping the security agents in the area of tracking.”