United Nations ranks Edo as best State in ICT, digital

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Governor Obaseki

The United Nations, in recognition of the e-governance reforms by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration, has ranked Edo as the best state in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and digital governance in Nigeria. The state got the recognition at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Design Workshop held in Lagos, which had in attendance representatives from the 36 states of the country, including Commissioners and Managing Directors of state ICT agencies and parastatals, among others.

The Obaseki-led government has in the past seven years undertaken bold and transformative reforms in the state’s civil and public service, transitioning the service delivery from an archaic, analogue and strenuous mode of operations to a digitized, seamless and efficient mode. The state is today the most digitally connected in Nigeria and operates the most digitized civil and public service, with all local governments connected to fibre optics. Edo is also the first state in the country to have entirely shifted to a digital mode of administration. Files are now processed through the service-wide e-government platform, ensuring quick turnaround time.

Responding to the honour at the well-attended event in Lagos, the Edo State Commissioner for Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Hon. Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor, commended Obaseki for being a trailblazer in the ICT sector. He said: “I felt like a superstar at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) workshop as Honourable Commissioners from across the nation, Managing Directors of states’ ICT agencies gathered in Lagos to brainstorm about the levels of digital transformation in their states, challenges and possible solutions to the challenges. At this event, I really appreciated how far we have come in Edo state and why we are ranked number one in ICT and digital governance in Nigeria. We are about the only state that has gone paperless in our government processes. Some states are centuries behind on this. With our almost 80 percent e-government compliance in the civil and public service, we lead all other states.” He further noted: “While many states are trying to negotiate with Galaxy Backbone, the Nation’s Data Center for web hosting and others, Edo state has a tier-3 State-of-the-art Data Center with over 1.5 petabyte data storage space with a 99.9 percent efficiency level. When I told my colleagues that our civil and public servants are the best paid in the country and have the best working environment, they were in awe. To be honest, I was a very proud Edo son and an extremely proud Commissioner for Digital Economy today. I had everyone asking me how we did it, asking about our EdoBEST programme, asking how we are able to pay N40, 000 minimum wage, asking about our Edo Innovates hub, among others.”

The Commissioner added: “In the next few weeks, I will be hosting a lot of my colleagues in Benin. They want to come and see what magic we have done in the Digital Economy of our state. I would like to express a special appreciation to my Governor, Godwin Obaseki, for being a trailblazer in the ICT sector. To be honest, I was prouder of him today than I’ve ever been. Kudos to you, boss!”

Governor Obaseki and his wife Betsy

In a related development, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has called for the democratization of education in Nigeria to bridge the gaping literacy gap and address the country’s dysfunctional education system. The governor made the call during a courtesy visit by members and executives of the Federal Government Girls’ College, Benin Alumni Association, at the Government House in Benin City.

Obaseki congratulated the school on their silver jubilee celebration, acknowledging the efforts of former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Samuel Ogbemudia, and the then Minister of Education in the creation of the school. He said: “We lobbied for the school to be set up in Benin City at that time and the focus and creativity of our governor was to acquire a large portion of land designated as an education hub as you have the University of Benin and Benin Technical College close to you. This school and all others set up at that time were to be part of a system as the thinking after the civil war was to create a united country and also give opportunity for our diversity relating to gender.”

Obaseki continued: “The issue of educating the girl-child is not new to us as a state. That is why we were very concerned when we came into office seven years ago. We concentrated on what was going on with the girl-child following incidents of human trafficking and irregular migration. This led us to prioritise education, particularly education for the girl-child. We have turned the situation around as Edo is no longer amongst the first 10 states in the country in terms of human trafficking. We are not where we want to be but will ensure that the examples of institutional building we have seen in the Federal Government Girls’ College Benin and other Federal Government colleges across the country trickle down across our educational system. This is necessary so that we don’t create a dangerous situation that is emanating from the country with the opportunity gap because of the educational divide we have created. We must democratize quality education and make sure that we remove issues or incidents of learning poverty from our country as we have emphasized education in Edo State.”

He further noted: “We have reset the education system in Edo state through basic education. In Edo state, we have ensured that every child, particularly the girl-child has access to high-quality basic education which is the foundation upon which every other thing rests. We are glad today that we have almost 400,000 of these children in our school system. We know each and every one of them as we are able to monitor them through the use of technology. Our goal is to make sure that every child in Edo at the age of 10 is able to read, write, and do their sums right. We are already seeing the results. As a state, when a child comes into our educational custody at the age of 6 years, we have responsibility for that child till that child is 15 years old as we create the basics for that child to live a self-sustained life even if that child doesn’t have opportunity to go forward.”

Obaseki charged: “You have to belong to the group that will advocate for proper transformation of the education system in Nigeria. Our education is in crisis as our education managers have messed things up. The dropout ratio between primary six and SS1 is 50 percent which is responsible for high trafficking in Nigeria as we have to build the education sector in the country to be able to optimize our potential.” The leader of the delegation of the alumni body and Edo State First Lady, Betsy Obaseki, thanked the governor for the developmental strides in the state especially in the education sector.

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