Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative has told the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF 2018) conference in Abuja that the Internet has come to disrupt the monopoly of power between government and citizens of Nigeria.
Ezekwesili, a former Minister in the Ministry of Education on Tuesday told attendees at the NIGF 2018 in her paper presentation, Internet as An enabler of Accountability and Transparency that the Nigerian society is similar to market of product where we have the demand (Citizens) and supply (Government) side.
Ezekwesili explains the issue with governance in societies like Nigeria that did not get the mastery of the democratic process that risks being truncated. ”So what happens in the supply side i.e the government becomes very strong and begins to dominate the entire space of the society and the supply side matures while the demand side is in a state of immaturity.”
According to her, ”what happens in the market is that if the supplier has greater power and the demand side is dis-empowered , then the market becomes monopoly market and monopoly has no incentive for quality and does not give quality product. Monopoly has no incentive for efficiency, and what do they do? They dominate, so the supply side of governance has dominated our society. That’s why if you dare open your mouth to talk, even the least member of the supply side of governance will embarrass you.”
“What do you do in a market of governance that looks like this? You must find a means of disrupting it and the Internet has come to disrupt the monopoly”, Ekewesilli told the NIGF 2018 gathering.
The former Nigerian Minister says that ”our children will not be like us. They are not going to be comfortable with low-quality governance because they have seen through the eye of those they interact with through the Internet that good governance is possible.
”So the main issue is going to be getting the citizens to a place of information literacy because the Internet will provide them an overload of information. So we need to get into a place of information literacy.”
Ezekwesili explains further that, “we need to collaborate as citizens to make our voice heard because if you are living in a society that is poorly-governed, that means you are also a poor person. So the greatest thing this kind of forum can do is for us to rise in stature and be the one to take this tool of a leveler of the power inequality that exist between the demand side and the supply side.”
“If a man who built is country up says to us that without quality governance it is impossible for a country to develop, I am paraphrasing the quote of Li Qua Yu of Singapore, if he said that, then you must know that there is something there. After all, Singapore and ourself started at almost the same level in the sixties after we gained Independence from Great Britain”, she says.
Ezekwesili explains that “Singapore has now gone up to have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of each individual in that society of about $60,000. We have manged to have GDP per capita of $2,317. Do we see the disparity and that disparity is the definition of good governance?
“If we are gathered to look at the Internet which is an equaliser as a means of improving the capacity of the demand side which was fragmented, weakened and we can see that through this tool you can create room for wider participation engagement and demand for accountability, then we can define how quickly we get to good governance”, according to Ezekwesili.