Technology can stabilize elections, stop corruption in Nigeria: John Obaro

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A foremost Financial Technology expert, John Obaro has said that technology is capable of stabilizing elections and preventing corruption in the country.

Obaro, who is the Managing Director of Nigerian FinTech firm, SystemSpecs said this earlier in the week, during a discussion on Channels TV about President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech at the Annual Investment Forum in Dubai.

Buhari had praised Nigeria’s young technology entrepreneurs who have attracted investments of over one hundred million dollars. He also spoke about the progress Nigeria has made in governance, using technology while lamenting the threats emanating from criminal elements deploying technology, including cybercrimes and cyberterrorism.

According to Obaro Nigerians must not allow these challenges to overwhelm them.

“Yes, there are challenges, but they are not unsolvable problems, we should rather focus on the bigger picture.”

On elections, Obaro, who clamoured for a more dominant role for technology said:

“Technology can help to stabilise elections. If you look at many of the things we are going through in Nigeria today, a good number of those things could have been addressed with technology.”

Addressing concerns that the cyberspace is borderless and therefore, opens the country to external interaction, Obaro said:

“Yes, it is borderless, but that even makes it easier. It means Nigerians in diaspora can participate in elections.”

He acknowledged that there are genuine fears but argued that those can be addressed”. He cited the example of aviation.

“There are plane crashes but does that mean we should stop flying?  We have to solve the problem and move on to the next step.”
Obaro mentioned some of the positive things that are being done already in different areas using technology, including revenue generation, and improved efficiencies in government.

“The next step should be elections. It is not rocket science, it is something we can achieve, and I hope we can achieve it for 2023. We can start with the by-elections, and perfect the process by 2023 for the main elections,” he said

In his speech in Dubai, the president had mentioned areas in which Nigeria is using digital platforms to reinforce its objectives of improving efficiency, accountability and transparency in governance, including procurement, payroll and revenue collections. Buhari’s speech mirrors the government’s achievements in the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which saves the federal government N24 billion naira monthly.

Incidentally, Obaro’s company, SystemSpecs created Remita, the software currently driving the TSA.

On how to correctly utilize technology for governance, Obaro said:

“The first thing is to be determined to do the right thing and not just play to the gallery. Sometimes the political speech prevents the real technical work from being done.”

Finally, he advocated for the use of technology in fighting corruption, stating that the government needs to use technology to minimize the incentive for corruption

“When people know there is technology behind something, it prevents corruption from happening. Rather than waiting to prosecute people, make it difficult for the crime to be committed.”

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