Nigeria is ready for the Open Data movement, being embraced by many governments around the world.
The Project Leader of the University of Ilorin’s Open Data Research group, Dr Omenego Mejabi, stated this at a one-day stakeholders’ workshop on Open Data in developing countries, held in Abuja.
According to Dr Mejabi, group research had shown that Nigerians desired to be updated and have access to various types of government data.
Accountability and transparency
Dr Mejabi noted that the open data movement can enable government agencies and other organisations to open information data online to enhance proper monitoring of government performance, check corruption and ensure transparency.
“Our case study focused on open budget data of the government of Nigeria and we are attempting to determine how the public engage in discussions on the national budget data. We want to find out the degree of awareness of open data by the public and also find out the challenges to effective use of such open budget data.” She said.
She added that open data would also enhance freedom of information.
“The major difference between these two is that the freedom of information act lays emphasis on demand while open data makes information, statistics or data available for the public online, mostly on issues that interest every Nigerian such as budget, sure-P issues, etc.” Dr Mejabi stated.
The Open Data advocate urged the civil society groups in Nigeria and other stakeholders in the application of open data to empower themselves and get required capacity to analyse assembled data more critically.
The workshop on Open Data Research focused on open budget data of governments, with a view to determining the degree of awareness on open data in Nigeria.
Lack of awareness
In his paper during the Workshop, the guest speaker, Dr Maurice McNaughton, identified a lack of awareness of what to do with available data posted online and illiteracy, as factors hindering the use of open data in any society.
“to many the content is over their head, you have to translate it to a form and content that means something to an individual. What does Nigeria having the largest economy in Africa mean to an average Nigeria may be nothing but if you take the largest economy and said economy wealth is broken down across society it might start to mean something to someone”
“then an individual will be able to say here I am in the society and here is what is apportioned of the largest economy that means something to me”
Dr McNaughtin added that the concept of Open data would help to translate statistics to simpler forms that would enable an individual to relate satisfactorily with facts assembled from different fields of interest.