Nigerians have been urged to key into the opportunities provided by open data to drive societal change by using available data in the public space as advocacy tools of engagement.
The Program Lead, Tracka-an initiative of BudgIT to address critical issues related to government projects- Mr Uadamen Ilevbaoje, said this at an event to mark this year’s World Open Data Day at the Celestial Church of Christ, Tejuosho Parish, Lagos.
Uadamen says Nigerians must be armed with the right data to hold the government to account at all levels.
He added that life can be a lot easier if citizens show more interest in open data with a view to using the information provided to keep the government on its toes.
In the presentation, he titled, “Using Civic Advocacy to Reach Under-served Community”, Uadamen says Nigeria needs community champions across the length and breadth of the country whose primary responsibility would be to engage residents of their communities on
civic education, budget-related issues and encourage members of their communities to take ownership of community projects.
In her presentation, the National Coordinator of Open Alliance, Ayomide Faleye, says misplacement of priorities, ignorance and docility of citizens have reversed the gear of development and left Nigeria behind developed economies.
According to Faleye, the issues Nigeria is dealing with today are issues developed economies have dealt with twenty years ago.
Faleye said it was time Nigerians stopped being deceived by tokenism and handouts by their leaders, noting that the led would continue to be taken for a ride by their leaders as long as they don’t fetch data that concerns them, ask hard questions and see data as a tool to drive societal change.
“There are over 180 million Nigerians although the number of the educated is not like 100 per cent. With the available data, however small it is, you and I can take it and look at it from the advocacy point.
Social media has really helped because it allows even the uneducated to have access to what is happening in the country. You see people with data but they don’t know what to do with it. Not because they don’t know. Everyone wants to remain in their comfort zone.
“There are places where we can get information. Organisations like BudgIT has been doing a lot of work and there are many organisations like that to sensitize the public as to where they can get information
with which they can use as advocacy tools to engage whoever is in government so that they can get the dividends of democracy”, she concluded.