- Photo L-R: HoSF, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, (10th), flanked by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani (9th), Permanent Secretary, SDO, Engr. Farouk (11th) and other Permanent secretaries at the end of a one day Retreat of the HoSF and the Federal Permanent Secretaries on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 in Abuja*
By M. A. Ahmed
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoSF), Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, CFR has reiterated that Ministries, extra-ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs) having been given the opportunity to ensure adequate budgetary allocation in the 2024 budget, will have no excuse not to up their game on digitalisation come 2024. This is with a view to meeting up with the deadline of 2025 as stipulated in the Federal Civil Service and Strategy and Implementation Plan, 2021-2025 (FCSSIP25). She said this at a one-day Retreat on Digitalisation for the Head of Service and Permanent Secretaries held on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, in Abuja.
Situating the theme “Towards the Digitalisation of the Public Service by 2025,” in a proper context, the HoSF stressed that all the FCSSIP25 pillars are anchored on digitalisation, insisting that for the Service to run with these pillars, it must digitalise its work processes. She urged MDAs to leverage on technology to drive the national goals of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.
She expressed dissatisfaction that Nigeria is lagging behind in terms of digitalisation, as 90% of governments in the world have since gone digital and are presently deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. Re-emphasising on the gains of going digital, such as reduction in cost of governance, waste reduction, as well as the provision of information at the backend with saved data, she urged MDAs to ensure uniformity and interoperability of data in order to achieve common set goals.
In welcoming invited guests and participants, the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office, OHCSF, Engr. Farouk Yusuf Yabo said that the HoSF is committed to ensuring that the Service works digitally, adding that OHCSF is carrying everyone along, in order to achieve that.
In their Goodwill Messages, the representative of the Aig-Imoukhoude Foundation, Miss Chioma Njoku reiterated the Foundation’s commitment in ensuring that the Service works for the good of its citizens, while the Director-General, NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa confirms that digitalisation is the only solution that will bring the entire system together. He expressed optimism on the successful achievement of its implementation in 2025.
In a Presentation delivered by Engr. Yabo, he hinted that the journey to digitalisation has already begun. He spoke on the vision, strategies and what the OHCSF has done so far in this regard. He also highlighted the importance of digitalisation, which include cost management, sovereignty, globalisation, data security, transparency, interoperability, amongst others.
In another Presentation by the Director, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mr Adeniyi Dada and the Director, Galaxy Backbone (GBB), who took the audience through the “Government e-mail Initiative. He revealed that the Office is set to meet the 2025 target. He also affirmed that MDAs are already aware of the government e-mails with the increase in the number of e-mail slots allocated by GBB from 10,000, 40,000 to 100,000 from 2009 to date.
During the Question, Comment and Answer Session, Permanent Secretaries suggested the following; cyber security training; standardisation of internet and for GBB to up their game in the provision of quality internet to Civil Servants; budget allocation for monitoring of MDAs; making ICT independent; inter-Ministerial recruitment to shore up capacity gap. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mr. Olusade Adesola urged MDAs to fast-track the implementation of their digitalisation processes by engaging with the OHCSF for guidance.
In response, MDAs were requested to be more proactive in streamlining issues that need GBB’s attention, as well as ensure that they make adequate provisions in their budget as digitalisation is dear to the heart of Mr. President.
A Panel Discussion moderated by the Permanent Secretary, SDO-OHCSF featured both public and private partners including the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Coordinator, Cyber Security, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), M.D./CEO, GBB, Chief Executive Officer, Secured Records Management Solutions, President, Compliance Institute, Nigeria and CEO, Crown Initiative Ltd.
The Discussants, unanimously, agreed that the Federal Civil Service is ready for digitalisation. Reasons adduced are that the Service produces the best brains that people poach to do the same work, their effective use of mobile phones, usage of banking platforms, also, being that they are already working in silos. They, however, harped on more capacity, unification of data, adequate budgetary resources, training and retraining, as well as standardisation and uniformity of software.
In his Address, the Honourable Minister of Communication, Digital Economy and Innovation, Mr. Bosun Tijani said that technology, having made things a lot easier, will enhance service delivery, greatly. He stated that the Eight (8) Presidential Priorities will not be realisable without technology. The Minister disclosed that the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is the system and capacity needed to deliver services to the public, also it enables broad socio-economic activities in a social age. Mr. Tijani further stated that the Nigerian populace is critical for achieving the e-government master plan, which seeks to support the Nigerian Digital Service Strategy.
In her Closing Remarks, the HoSF appreciated the Honourable Minister for his articulated remarks and the Transformative Permanent Secretaries for the massive turnout, as well as active participation. She expressed optimism that the Service is ready to move so as not to be left behind by its peers, globally. She also said that there will be a report from all MDAs on how far they have gone on digitalisation, re-emphasising that there should be no excuse for lagging behind. Though the journey is a peculiar one, the Service is ready to move ahead, she assured.
*M. A. Ahmed,
OFFICE OF THE HEAD OF CIVIL SERVICE OF THE FEDERATION