Lagos has introduced an initiative known as Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) platform aimed at creating an open-governance and enable citizens to interact with officials of the government.
Speaking at the CRM platform launch at Lagos House, Marina recently, Governor Babatunde Fashola explained why and how the nuts and bolts of the CRM platform were put together, adding that it was modeled on international best practices where citizens are saved the inconvenience and expense in getting issues resolved by the government or its agencies.
The governor said the idea is for a citizen of the state to be able to call a dedicated number to report, for instance, about refuse pilling up or burst water pipe or leaking sewage and that the government would get the relevant agencies to attend to these issues within stipulated time, depending on the size of the problem.
He posited that with the launch of the CRM platform, it would be unnecessary for citizens to transport themselves to the government’s secretariat or to the governor’s office to report about a situation or get a form filled to get services from the government.
He remarked that people still want to make eye contact with government officials, regardless of the existence of telephones they could use to call the official lines the government published for the purpose.
According to Fashola, “We are stepping into the future today because I know that perhaps only members of this generation are still comfortable with eye to eye contact but those of the generation behind us are already talking to themselves with their cellphones, other applications and, perhaps they will be the biggest beneficiaries of this CRM but everybody is entitled to use it.”
He said the essence of naming streets and numbering of houses in the past three years is to identify where services were needed for easy provision.
Commenting on why the government decided to have a dedicated platform for non-emergency issues, Fashola said the existing toll free emergency number 767 of the state and 112 national emergency number got millions of calls on those two lines but that “not all of them were emergency calls for life-threatening situations when people needed urgent help like fire, road and domestic accidents that needed ambulances to respond, robbery and so on. Some people call in to say ‘how are you? We are just testing it.”
He warned that the state has a law that would be used to prosecute nuisance callers, but that these unwanted calls did not eliminate the problem of some people who needed services.
“So, overpopulating the emergency lines asking for the position of their files or asking for their refuse to be moved or that their neighbours are harassing them with loud music at night and those kinds of issues needed to be addressed differently,” he said.
This service platform, he said became a compelling necessity to be created because it is something that would be easy to use and manage, the state not being able to get a new number from NCC, had to use the existing 767 emergency number.
“It will still serve for emergency but what we are saying is, don’t call 112 for services; we won’t respond. The 112 is now solely for emergency and 767 will do emergency and services.”
The CRM, he said does not run on telephone alone because it is on the internet; it is web-based, adding “why we are using telephone now is for people who don’t have internet but have a telephone and can call and receive calls but as the national broadband increases more people will be connected. The web address is services.lagosstate.gov.ng.”
The CRM, he said is for services from the government’s agencies and that the government’s IT partners designed all the issues that people normally presented when they visited the government office at Alausa into digital format.
“So, if LASMA tows your vehicle, for example, and you want to lodge a complaint, there are certain things you would do at LASTMA’s office and these have been put in digital form for you to use in your home. So, if you need a form, then you can fill that form online when you get to the CRM and LASTMA will see the same form that you would have travelled to Alausa to fill,” he added.
He said 11 ministries and agencies have crossed this huddle and that 14 were almost ready, adding that the process would continue until all ministries and agencies were added.
Introducing the project earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs. Onikepo Animashaun said it was created out of Governor Fashola’s desire to make government more accountable and to enhance efficient service delivery system,adding that with the platform citizens of the state could interact with officials of the government in a more efficient manner by going on the CRM platform to either lodge a complaint or make enquiries or fill forms that are related to government services.
She said Governor Fashola was able to empower her ministry to do the job of providing e-governance in the state by getting the best IT solutions from around the world, including that of Microsoft, whose Senior Director, Public Sector, Middle East and Africa, Mr. Yasser Elabd was at the launch of the CRM in Lagos.
She said the Performance Research platform leverages on the state’s existing 767 toll-free number and that it was for non-emergency service only.
There is a performance monitory component, she said that enables them to plan and deplore more efficiently, stressing that “we track our performance, store all our complaint, take enquiries so that government can actually address issues that citizens of Lagos are agitating over.”
The platform, she said would, for now, be available only from Monday to Friday and from 8 AM to 5 PM on these days, adding that at the pilot stage, only 11 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been covered and that the remaining MDAs would eventually be included in the system.
She listed some of the 11 pilot MDAs as: LAWMA, LASMA, Lagos Traffic Management Authority, Lagos State Advertising Agency, Public Corporation Board, LIRS, Electricity Board, among others.