The Federal Government has commended the University of Ilorin for its commitment to move the government’s Open Data Initiative forward in the right direction.
The commendation was made last Monday (April 7, 2014) by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, at the Open Data Research Stakeholders Workshop organised by the University Open Data Research Group at the National Press Centre, Radio House, Abuja.
With funding by World Wide Web Foundation, the University of Ilorin Open Data Research Group led by Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Mejabi, focused its study on open budget data of the government with a view to determining how the citizens engage in the discussions of the national budget data; the degree of awareness of open data by members of the public; the potential of open data to drive good governance; the intermediaries in the flow of budget information; as well as the challenges to effective use of such open budget data. The Workshop was organised to present the outcome of the research to the general public.
In his keynote address at the Workshop, Dr. Olaopa disclosed that the Open Data Initiative, being championed by his Ministry, was in line with the government’s desire to ensure that Nigerians participate actively in the new economy and make governance more efficient and effective.
The Permanent Secretary said, “The open data movement holds out the promise of improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and economic opportunity”, adding that “there is mounting evidence that open data can and is making a measurable difference in contributing jobs, consumer spending, and tax revenue to local economies.”
In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, noted that the Workshop was a useful “platform for stakeholders in the open data initiative to highlight, discuss and support the emerging catalogues of findings about the impact of open data initiatives in developing countries like ours.”
The Vice-Chancellor, who was represented on the occasion by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. Felix Oladele, said, “The University of Ilorin is renowned for its proud heritage of commitment to research and learning with exceptional regards for town and gown collaboration, which today’s occasion is intended to demonstrate.”
Explaining the rationale for taking the Workshop to Abuja, the Vice-Chancellor said it was a demonstration of the University’s regards for its “partners’ invaluable inputs in the framework of our mission, vision and activities.”
“At the University of Ilorin, we have good character, unmatched capacity and competence, and we use all these to impact knowledge and create innovations that can positively impact our society,” the Vice-Chancellor further said.
In his goodwill message, a Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ibadan, Isaac Olawale Albert, commended the University of Ilorin for organising the Workshop and congratulated the University’s open data research team on a job well done.
Prof. Albert urged universities to endavour to make their research findings available to government.
At the end of the Workshop’s technical sessions, participants called for Increased awareness of Open Data in Nigeria as a way of enhancing effective monitoring and evaluation of the processes of governance, transparency, accountability and accuracy.
Among those who attended the Workshop were the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan; the Peer Supporter and Mentor of the Unilorin research group, Dr. Maurice McNaughton of the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica; as well as representatives of civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations.