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Organisations and government agencies at all levels require a vision and strategy driven by digital technology. Embedding digital technology ecosystems in the process of visioning and strategy development strengthens policies and frameworks for public sector accountability, boosts transparency and enhances positive social change.

This was made known by the Managing Director/CEO, FITC, and Summit Chairman, Nigerian Risk Awards (NRA), Chizor Malize at the 2022, Nigerian Risk Leadership Summit & Awards themed: Tech’ in Risk Governance & Leadership hosted by Conrad Clark last week at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

In declaring the NRA Summit open, Malize in her address titled: Public Accountability, Transparency and Big Data: Leveraging Information Technology to Drive Transformation, Boost Transparency and Enhance Positive Social Change, enjoined organizations and government agencies to embrace technology , as it is one of the most critical tools for leaders to explore for nation building, capacity development, acceleration of economic growth, and risk management capabilities in Nigeria, and across Africa.

The Nigerian Risk Awards and Leadership Summit (NRA), now in its 6th edition, was set up to recognize and reward organizations and individuals who have achieved measurable results through good governance, internal controls, and risk management systems. Particularly, the NRA is aimed at celebrating those who have developed creative and innovative solutions to overcome the challenges facing their businesses and organizations.

Malize explained that while digital technology has been experiencing exponential growth especially in the 21st Century, there’s still a wide gap in its assimilation between developed and developing nations with less than 25 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa having access to digital services.

According to her, this portends an opportunity for organizations and government agencies to adopt technology as an enabler for effective leadership & governance, and as a driver for public sector accountability to boost transparency and enhance positive social change.

“Research has shown that in fostering a technological framework towards the effective governance as well as the attainment of national and sustainable development goals in any nation, the first effective strategy would be the critical assessment or overhauling of the technology infrastructure, to ensure an alignment of policies with Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) goals,” she said.

Speaking further, Malize stated that today, world-class governance and social impact can be made leveraging technology. “With consistency and time, digital technology in governance becomes the most effective instrument to safeguard against various economic and other challenges, as technologic ecosystems are still expected to not just help organizations and government in their agendas, but also propel the attainment of their vision and strategic goals” she said.

“Citizens and society are interested in a more transparent systems, and demand accountability from both organizations and government agencies. To achieve this, leaders must fully embrace technology as the enabler for good governance. Government agencies at all levels must be guided and driven by digital technology led strategies and ecosystems, as they strengthen policies and frameworks for public sector accountability, boosts transparency and enhances positive social change,’’ she said.

Read also: VFD Group supports Africa Social Impact Summit

In his welcome address, Joachim Adenusi, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Conrad Clark Nigeria Limited and Convener of the Nigerian Risk Awards, noted that governance has been discussed and overrated over the last couple of years. “Both the private and public sector organizations and stakeholders have been talking about the importance of good governance in nation building. For me, good governance is about ownership, accountability, transparency and integrity. I have observed that people who are not willing to be accountable cannot be responsible, and those who are willing to assume responsibility must be ready to give account. When the sense of responsibility and accountability is combined, it creates a sense of transparency and forces a level of integrity to be displayed,” he stated.

Speaking further on leveraging technology to accomplish government goals, Malize highlighted that in order to achieve and enhance the nation’s technological capacities for innovation in leadership and governance, implementing practicable research, data analysis, and feasible technical experiments from learning institutions such as FITC to tackle arising or antecedent obstacles is key and that adequately developing the right policies favoring the technological ecosystems is also beneficial in the long run.

“An ecosystem that supports research, development, and innovation, integrated with effective frameworks of governance is important in the achievement of national and SDG goals. However, there must also be the digitization of governmental oversight functions to help drive transformation across board” she said.

Other notable speakers at the event include: Kola Adesina, GMD, Sahara Power Group; Kiran Wood, a professor at Chitkara Business School, Chitkara University, India; Ademola Adesalu, Managing Director, CRC Data & Analytics Limited; Ejemen Okojie, Director, Organizational Development & Talent Management, IHS Nigeria Limited; Mohammed-Bashir Yunusa, Head NIB Digital Business, Sterling Bank; Nene Obichie, Chief Growth Officer, Ativo; Gbenga Omolokun, Managing Director, VFD Microfinance Bank among others.

The Nigerian Risk Awards which is usually the highlight of the Summit, is set up to recognize and reward organizations and individuals who have developed creative and innovative solutions to overcome the challenges facing their businesses and organizations, and achieved measurable results through good governance, internal controls, and risk management systems. The first-place winner of the 6th edition and 2022 Nigerian Risk Awards was Michael Udealor, Lead Risk, Mouka Foam Limited. He walks away with an all-expense paid trip to the international global community- Risk Management Society (RIMS) annual risk conference held in the United States of America.

On Nigeria and e-Governance, Malize opined that while government is currently using information and communications technologies to enhance the range and quality of information and services provided to citizens, businesses, civil society organizations, and other government agencies in an efficient, cost-effective and convenient manner, government processes are also becoming more transparent and accountable, and this is strengthening our democracy. This move towards e-Governance is basically a move towards SMART governance implying: simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent governance,” she noted.

“We can, as a nation achieve Social Change via ICT in the areas of fiscal public participation, accountability, improved revenue drive and improved social economic & environmental outcomes. In addition, involving all relevant stakeholders would hasten the realization of social change. There must also be a collaborative approach to governance and digital technology. Designing effective grounds of communication between the government and stakeholders would help boost accountability and transparency leveraging social platforms, webinars, conferences and other means of social engagements,” Malize noted.

While acknowledging the challenges that big data poses for accountability, and transparency, Malize advised that this should not discourage government agencies and organizations from making appropriate investments and harvesting the investments for results.

“Instead, this opportunity should be leveraged to develop methodological frameworks that account for the strengths and weaknesses of the knowledge claims that are produced with a big data state of mind. Invariably, this is the way to drive transformation, boost transparency, and enhance positive social changes” she said.

In his closing remarks, the Convener, NRA, Joachim Adenusi thanked the speakers for the detailed discussions on the issues, possibilities, opportunities and challenges facing the nation in the area of technology and Big Data, and congratulated the winners of this year’s edition, noting that the next edition will not only feature more entries from outside Nigeria but will possibly be hosted in location off the shores of Nigeria as well.