Why The Government Needs To Be More Open With Data

The “GoalsKeeper of the Week” TweetChat with Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko.

Citation

Dr. @OluwayomiAoko is the founder of Centre For Research Education & Development in Physical Rehabilitation.

Full brief on Dr. Aoko can be gotten on his clinic’s webpage – https://agelessphysio.com/ageless-team/

Contacts

Twitter: @credprNigeria | @DrOluwayomiAoko | @AgelessPhysio | @AgelessNigeria

Websites: www.credprfoundation.org (#FreeWeb4SDGs 3rd website) | www.agelessphysio.com | www.ageless.com.ng

Questions and Answers Time

FreeWeb4SDGs Q1:

What is your motivation for advocating for open data?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A1:

We will all agree with me for Nigeria to make great progress , we need to be able to stem the tide of corruption and get value for money spent for our budgetary allocations and infrastructural development by opening up to the citizens the data behind all these.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q2:

Can you give us a brief about open data and its history?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A2:

Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share.

In 2011, government leaders and civil society advocates came together to create a unique partnership—one that combines the power of #OpenData to promote accountable, responsive and inclusive governance called #OpenGovernment.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q3:

What is then the aim of open data and what makes is so relevant?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A3:

By opening up data, and making it sharable and reusable government can enable informed debate, better decision making, and the development of innovative new services.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q4:

If data would be made open, then there should be policy areas? Please share those areas with us.

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A4:

The policy areas address the right to: Information, Education, Beneficial Ownership, Open Contracting and Budgeting, Gender and Inclusion, Digital Governance Rights, Protection of Civic Space, Natural Resources, Anti-Corruption, Civic Space, Political Integrity, Defending journalists and Activists, Freedom of Assembly, etc.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q5:

Please give us examples of some organisations and countries that may be using Open Data. How effective has it been?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A5:

Nigeria is a signatory to the #OGP and other countries are Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, Ecuador, South Africa, Malawi, France.

Some of the non-governmental organizations exploring the opportunity to make government accountable in Nigeria are: @BudgITng, @TrackaNG, @CiviciLab, @4lowthemoney, @SERAPNigeria, @Connected_dev, @CACOLnigeria

These organizations have been able to open up the government budget to the citizens and allow citizens to follow the money appropriated for these budgets and call attention of the government to ones that are being left undone. They are all good initiatives.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q6:

In Nigeria we have the Freedom of Information Act of 2011 signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan. Is the act achieving the purpose for which it was enacted?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A6:

Yes, some amount of information have been pushed into the public space, there is no doubt about that. We have also seen situations where the government of @MBuhari  has shown a lot of intentions to make information more transparent and accessible especially budgetary allocations. Others are making great effort to give us access to all these information. The question is, what do citizens do with all these information? Have we been sufficiently empowered ourselves to make good use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) act?

FreeWeb4SDGs Q7:

You raised a question, “Have we been sufficiently empowered ourselves to make good use of the FOI act?” How can citizen of African countries be empowered to access and use Open Data?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A7:

Look at Education for example, a lot of people don’t know that as of May 2019, 55 OGP members had made nearly 200 commitments on education ranging from transparency in the delivery of school lunches to ensuring the allocation of funds for school repairs. What do we need to do? We need to make the information like this available to citizens of Nigeria in different languages and widely distributed. We need to have town hall meetings with citizens in their local territories. We need to be seen to be speaking languages they understand.

We need to distribute this information in the format they pass information in that local territory. We need to make them understood that if they track infrastructural development meant for them it will ensure their prosperity and that of the rest of their family.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q8:

What more can the three arms of the government – executive, legislature and judiciary do, to help with Open Data?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A8:

There are still lots of loopholes endearing corruption within the 3 arms of govt. First we need sincere leaders with knowledge that when things are properly done we will all prosper.

Secondly we need to fix the loopholes which could be done by the legislature arm.

Thirdly we need to educate the citizens about how they can use the information available in the public space. We need to empower them to ask questions. We need to make them track all developments going on around them.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q9:

What are your future plans in your quest for open data?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A9:

@credprNigeria main focus is on open data in healthcare space. We still have a long way to go about how citizens and government handle healthcare data. With the efforts from global NGOs we have been able to see funding going into researches into important health indices made publicly accessible to everybody. It’s getting better daily but we need to do more. We need to empower citizens to be able to handle their healthcare data properly with all due privacy and security as practiced globally. You will agree with me that #Covid19 has shown that. We need to do more with how we manage healthcare data during pandemic and how to make foray into researches that can quickly help to change the course of the pandemic.

FreeWeb4SDGs Q10:

What is your final word as we round up this TweetChat?

Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko A10:

By opening up data, and making it sharable and reusable government can enable informed debate, better decision making, and the development of innovative new services. Open data can be a powerful force for public accountability—it can make existing information easier to analyze, process, and combine than ever before, allowing a new level of public scrutiny. Governments that enable public viewing of data can help citizens engage within the governmental sectors and add value to that data.

On a final note, open government initiatives will empower citizens, help small businesses, and create value in positive and constructive way. Opening government data is a great way to improve education, improve government, and building tools to solve other real national problems.

Word of Thanks

We thank Dr. Oluwayomi Aoko for finding time to be our Special Guest and for the insights we have gotten from him today.

We also thank all our followers who joined the conversation and trusting they would be at the next edition of the TweetChat.

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