Fighting Corruption with E- Government

Mat_7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

A lot has been said on anticorruption … and while I concur that the quick-win legal and enforcement issues are extremely key, my focus remains on strengthening societal institutions and the basic processes that control and influence everyday living.

When we talk about automation and processes in Nigeria – most people chuckle … while in other competitive societies, so much is being done with as little human interface as possible. You can obtain your driving license, passport, pay your taxes, start your business, regulatory clearance etc. without meeting any government officer in person or visiting any government building. All that is expected is that you clearly understand and obey the laid-down rules and provide evidence (with no human contact) that conditions are met. Many Nigerians cannot visualise their cheque books/bank cards/international passports safely posted to them. It sounds absurd that tax payers and citizens fund very fundamental institutions that cannot be trusted and indeed no more expected to play their role with all requisite standards of security. In the US during the 2nd World war as far back as in the 1940s … soldiers posted money to their loved ones who received them and the systems have only got better.

Obtaining regulatory approvals/getting things done in Nigeria require more interpersonal interaction and I dare say emotional intelligence as opposed to simply meeting the set criteria for such approval/transactions. Then of course we have to show appreciation for the painstaking effort of the many kind government officers and intermediaries who made it happen.

The internet and information technology have already made it possible to eliminate human interfaces for almost every transaction (and this technology is quite mature … already over 20 years old) … whether you are registering voters or seeking approval to build a refinery or local content approval. This complete elimination of human interfaces go a long way to encourage fairness and eliminating the grey areas which quickly descend further into the black boxes of corruption. For example … oil bloc bidding/awards , sales, oil contracts and indeed most of oil trade can be done on open portals that everyone who cares to can see/participate (if qualified) from a PC anywhere…. the rules are embedded and implemented transparently.

All over the world, economies are making their societies more competitive by introducing improvements to eliminate wastage, human interfaces and stages that do not add any value … banking halls are disappearing … paper passports are going(increasingly digitalised) … interviews can be done anywhere with anybody using virtual rooms helped with Skype/visual recognition and retina technology. Physical money is slowly becoming extinct … enabling tracking/tracing of all money flows….making most corruption almost impossible.

I love and also preach sermons on anticorruption telling ourselves that our great grandfathers would leave their treasures on the road side and would come back to meet them untouched. We often vow that the “old civil service” was an embodiment of ethics and we look backwards pining for those days. All I know now is that you will have a stampede on your hands if foolish enough to leave “diamonds” unguarded on the streets of New York. Valuable things must be protected by systems, documentation and legal enforcement or they will be stolen. There is nothing unusual or criminal about Nigerians. The same Nigerians are designing, managing and living with E-government processes in developed economies – obeying all the rules.

I argue that if ownership of discovered resources (oil, metals, gold etc) pass to individuals or private corporations (like we have e.g. in the United States) instead of to government, there will be an accelerated exploitation and expansion of mineral wealth, and end to most corruption … no more sabotaged pipelines and bunkering will cease.

Mat_7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The things we treasure (not just our faith …but also our pearls) should be cherished and valued … assets, property, time, our resources … all seem cursed to be squandered through leaking government systems …and we wonder why we are stuck in a mire of decline. Competitive societies are protected by secure institutions …basic ground-level institutions like the Postal institutions, Police, City/municipal councils are extremely vital for a bottom-up sanitisation. A lot can be done quickly if basic data on citizens are completely digitised….if ownership, property, assets, residences are registered in linked digital platforms. E- Government sounds advanced – but is actually a MUST… and in truth far less complicated than the confused labyrinth that exists today.

I dare you to attempt to renew your Nigerian passport. You will come to the unavoidable conclusion that corruption is part of the DNA of all clumsy institutions even when you can find angels to manage them for a while.

I meet people everyday who give excuses why we cannot do these things yet. Countries now use the instrument of referenda to accelerate the decisions and changes they need to make where there are constitutional blockers etc. All I say to them is we will one day have to do these things whether we like it or not. The hard work ahead of building our institutions will not disappear – it is only waiting for who will lead us into a new era of progress. Enough of Politics.


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Chief of the Fathers

Nehemiah 12:22 The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

Many criticize the word of God as biased to favor the masculine gender. But God does not answer to the yearnings of our culture, but the true needs of our souls. The role of families is so pivotal in the word of God, and the father has a major part to play to ensure families turn out right. The fathers must provide leadership in the family … not as bullies …but as men under accountability before God. Priests were over the fathers to teach them, to show them the expectations of God. Fathers were under the influence of intensive teachings and spiritual guidance so that all would be well in the land.

I pray you will understand this important aspect of Christian life. Modernity has belittled fatherhood as weak, wicked and oppressive and women have been encouraged to rise up and be independent. Sexual variants have been institutionalized to cripple normal family life …the main objective is to remove fathers from being able to perform their roles in normal domestic situations. Christ must be the head of the home, but He leads through fathers who are to love unconditionally …especially when situations challenge that love. It helps to respect leadership … when leaders are respected, the weight on their shoulders are lightened and they are able to joyfully do that which they were created to do. Fathers also have to be taught the importance of discipline and how to chasten when required.

Heb_12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Verses for further meditation
Deuteronomy 4:9 ;Luke 15:22

Thoughts for Business and the work place
Strong leadership is not just for men, but God has crafted unique roles in genders. Do not confuse them.

Suggestions for Prayer
Lord, give us fathers according to thy word. Amen

As Nehemiah’s wall was built, so will we see a reconstruction in all that may appear in distress and in waste. Nehemiah trusted and feared God, putting his faith in the Almighty whose strength is limitless to exceed all our expectations. Look out daily for Nehemiah’s Wall in 2015 and do invite friends to subscribe to the free email or social media posts. I am praying someone with a burden to be used by God in building will receive a fresh vision and get the job done.

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