* Biometrics captures over 44,000 civil servants
By Codratus Godson
The Rivers State government says it is building an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) backbone to boost service delivery and create jobs.
The media consultant working on the project, Maple Dappa, told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the scheme is a conscious and deliberate effort geared towards creating a knowledge-based economy, improvement of service delivery, creation of jobs and opportunities for the teeming youth population.”
He said these investments have basically centered on the development and deployment of database management and administration system in the areas of public service, tax collection, the education sector, court-related processes and activities as well as the development and deployment of an employment portal.
He said ICT has long been identified as having the potential to better the lots of developing countries like Nigeria if fully maximized, especially in driving business opportunities, pushing for inclusion, fostering transparency, and impacting areas like healthcare, the financial sector, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Naming areas of maximum impact so far, Dappa named the tax collection system in the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) as a major area of breakthrough. He said the RIRS is about managing most of its tax processes and tax clearance certicate process online.
For years, Rivers State was plagued with stories of multiple taxation, tax evasion and avoidance, tax refunds, poor tax administration. To tackle this, the government introduced the Rivers State Tax Management Information System (RivTaMiS), an online platform that provides taxpayers and tax administrators a convenient and effective means of paying and managing taxes and tax information. It also enables task payers to own and have their task records.
Set up as a collaboration between the Rivers State ICT department and the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RSIRS), by May this year, the platform had registered 5,342 tax-paying organizations and 101, 500 individual taxpayers. Out of this number of paying organizations, 2800 have filed annual returns and 408 making tax clearance certificates via the RivTaMiS platform.
On ghost worker syndrome that has bedeviled the system over the decades, Dappa said: “The government developed an online portal called “Rivers State Public Service Management Information System” (RivPuSMiS). The portal works as a platform to capture the biometrics of public servants and their employment history in order to plan and monitor the public service system.
“Since it came into effect two years ago, the system has successfully captured 44,435 public servants across 79 ministries and 1,031 of them identified as retired between January and May this year, Dappa says.
In education, the Rivers State Education Information Management System (RivEMiS) was set up to remove a hitherto existing manual system that made the management of the sector rigorous.
At present, RivEMis is used to manage the procedures for registering a new school, renewing existing registrations, schools’ inspection and approvals, transfer certificates, registration for State-wide Examinations like the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and certificate printing. Beyond that, it tracks the registration of private and public schools, enrolment of pupils and students in both private and public schools.
According to the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on ICT, Ibifuro Asawo, the result has been the tracking of 4,335 schools, with 2,618 being private schools while 1,717 are public. About 67,523 candidates who have registered for state’s 2019 Basic Education Certificate Examination in 867 private and public schools across the 23 local governments of the state have been captured using the system.
He talked about the employment scalability, he said over 19,000 job seekers were trained. The state’s ICT team created RivsJobs, an online portal that serves as a convergence point for employers of labour and jobseekers.
“Upon appropriate research and findings, the Rivers State Jobs (RivJobs) website was developed and deployed as an online platform that connects job seekers with prospective employers.
“The key agenda is to create a robust online portal that connects employers to talents and serves as the dashboard for monitoring job creation and employment activities in the state.
“The RivJobs portal enables employers and companies to register and advertise for available jobs while allowing job seekers to find suitable opportunities for employment. To further improve the chances of getting job seekers their preferred jobs, various employability trainings were conducted for registered jobseekers,” says Asawo.
Dappa said the ICT scheme has also helped to change the narrative of the creeks of the state. “Riv-TechCreek is poised to deliver quality ICT innovations (products and services) through learning, creating and connection in the Niger Delta region and beyond,” says Dappa.
Dappa says since last year, TechCreek has trained over 4,000 people in total, including children during holidays, young adults, teachers, young professionals and civil servants. Training focuses on areas such as database administration, coding, animation, designs, robotics, as well as third-party trainings hosted at the TechCreek facility housed inside the Rivers ICT department building in Port Harcourt.
In addition to the above, according to Asawo, underway digital developments to be deployed soon include: Rivers State Health Management Information System (RivHMiS), Rivers State Court Management Information System for the judiciary (RivCoMiS), Rivers State Integrated Lands, Urban and Housing Management Information system (RivILUHMiS), a state website, portal and a digital application for information dissemination, a policy to oversee the use of ICT in the state and a “Linkage and Partnerships” initiative that would basically work to partner with technology giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft on ways to empower youths and create opportunities.