A lot of decision making has been hampered by lack of adequate data and information management. As the President of Institute of Information Management (IIM) in Nigeria. Can you share with us some these issues with insight?
Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole (Information & Data Management Expert): In Nigeria generally if you ask quite a number of people, they will say that Information and data management is important but what is lacking in this enviroment is the fact that individuals, organisations and government are yet to come to terms of seeing information as a corporate asset. People are yet to realise that information is an asset that they need to adequately manage. If we talk about Information Management, we are basically talking about what we refer to as Information Life Cycle which has to do with managing the process of information creation, capture, the proper classification of those information, proper storage, proper infrastructure being put in place for information sharing and collaboration and eventually disposition of this information. A number of organisations acquire information from different sources and they fail to have those necessary structures in place when it comes to how this information is being stored because information that is not properly captured and lack proper indexing and classification becomes difficult when there is any need for retrieval. What is the essence of having the information that you are not able to access? This is really common when we look at the Public Sector as govenment has a lot to be done in this sense.
Dr. Oyedokun, We are talking about the proliferation of data within government circle. Looking at the multiplication of information and data, MDAs such as the National Population Commission (NPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as well as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). What exactly should the government do to be able to aggregate all of these data and information for the socio-economic benefit of Nigerians?
Well, I think the government need to put in place enabling laws and policies that would guide how information is being collected, stored, shared and distributed as well as the retention period of the information being collected. For every information that is captured, there is retention period and there has to be certain laws that guides the duration of information storage. There could be need for some to be stored for life. Primarily, it is essential for government to ensure the enabling laws are in place because this is what will guide the interaction of all the MDAs and all other government agencies connecting (collecting) the information.
To you Jasmine Onyemachi, you are a fellow of the Institute of Information Management (IIM), Dr. Oyedokun did mention lack of enabling laws or adequate legislative process. In terms of advocacy, what is the Institute doing in order to ensure that we have the requisite legislative framework for information and data management?
The truth is that the institute has been on a long journey and walk to bringing the Federal Government into its vision and mission. We have spoken to the past government in charge like the Minister of Information for the last dispensation. We are hoping that very soon we would be given the platform in which to voice out our own advantages to the government. Hopefully, the advocacy for Information Management within the MDAs and even within the Civil Service itself would be held. That is what we are hoping for so we are also expecting that at the induction, the Minister of Information would hopefully give us a hear on that day.
Let’s come back to you Dr. Oyedokun, we are in a system where corruption is a cardinal focus of the government of the day. Information and data provides a good basis for accountability, transparency and government anti-corruption drive. In line with this, how is the Institute positioning to help government achieve this objectives?
The Institute of Information has actually been harping on the need for information to be given adequate attention. I can authouritatively say here that for any government to succeed, there has to be need for information to be accorded the right attention and for government to take information management very seriously. For government to take any quality decision, there would be need for government to have access to quality information. If you don’t have access to information, decision making is going to be a big problem. Why we have not been able to have past government achieve much in this country is the fact that in spite of all the millions you tend to hear during the announcement of national budget, they are not commensurate with the level of result you get to see at the end of the day. It’s simply because those budget are not based on facts and quality information but based on assumptions and whatever decision that is based on assumption, you don’t expect to have quality result. For any government that really wants to change the environment and really want to have impact in the life of its citizens then there is need for such government to give priority to information management because for all the decisions that would be made, there would be need for government to access those quality information.
Jasmine, If we say that the government should provide the enabling environment for this to thrive. Would you say that the Institute of Information Management has done enough to raise the requisite manpower development to be able to help Nigeria address the issue of information and data management?
I would say sincerely that its history as an institution as well as its wealth of knowledge archived so far will definitely help us reach that goal but you have to be given some level of opportunity for you to gain certain information. Not all information are available to us at the moment which is what we are fighting for. Certain informations should be made available. There is no government who would relegate any information. The information you send out to the populace creates a lot of reactions. The question is what kind of reaction are you looking for? For example, the issue of the budget having some certain issues in terms of information and assumed balance. Those informations are now actually not expected to hit the public until it is time for it to hit the public. If the Institute of Information Management is given the opportunity to handle such a project, the information that goes out would be information that would definitely impact positively to the government itself as a body, to Nigeria as a people to the outside world because the way we project ourself is how the outside world sees us to be. What information are we giving to foreign investors? Are we telling them that we have issues with the department that is suppose to handle the budget? Those information are not suppose to just get out . They are information that are calculated. These are the things that we are hoping that government will give us hear and allow us to handle discreet areas in government.
It’s a common feeling that as a people, Nigerians are not quite good at record keeping. If you ask for certain archival materials maybe 10 years down the line, it may be difficult to access this accurately. Jasmine, what is the Institute of Information Management (IIM) doing in helping Nigerian address this kind of challenge?
When we speak of Nigeria, we are speaking about the public. For now, the Institute of Information Management is desgnated to managing certain corporate informations. Well, we have not been opened yet to handling the government informations. I can’t thoroughly tell you that we are handling people information. We are handling corporate information.
Why is this the scenario Dr. Oyedokun? What is the Institute doing to ensure that this challenge that she mentioned is addressed because if you look at it, the private sector does not exist in a vacuum. There is an interconnectivity between the government and private sector. What is the Institute doing in terms of approval or curriculum development for the Institute?
If you look at the Institute core values which includes standard, competence, research and certification. You will agree with me that we already have a structure in place that is aim at addressing some of these gaps. If we talk about standards, the institute has a plan to help not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to develop information management related standards. If you talk about how information is being collected, stored, shared and disposed of, there has to be a standard for that otherwise people tends to manage information haphazardly. We already have those in place. We have certification programs that are aimed at ensuring that those people that are tasked with the responsibility of managing the information life cycle are properly trained an tutored in a way and manner which they will know how to handle information. You will agree with me that we have had quite a number of highly publicised issues in the area of information management like the recent budget issue, the Federal Ministry of Aviation bullet proof car saga. All of those issues were as a result of poor management of information. In the case of the budget, one would have assumed that being at the Federal level there would be certain standards in place when you are producing a National Budget, there haas to be certain qualaity assurance and check that neede to be put in place that will ensure that before the information even get to the public domain, they are properly scrutinized, checked and ensure the accuracy of such information is complete. These are some of the things that Institute of Information Management (IIM) has actually brought on the table and we hope the government of the day will give us the opportunity because in the past, we have really found it very difficult trying to convince the government to embrace information management. Even if we have to bring angels to come and manage the affairs of Nigeria without access to adequate information, I can tell you that they are not going to achieve anything. Look at the case of security, about 2 years back, some of foreign countries like United States of America and other countries volunteered to assist us fight insurgency in Nigeria but they have to leave because information was not properly managed. Information management is really key if the government is really serious about change and having impact on the society then information management has to be brought to the front burner and has to be given an urgent attention. Infact, I would advice the government to declare state of emergency on information management in Nigeria.
Jasmine, mismanagement of information can lead to a whole lot of disaster in an age that is driven by internet and computer. Information Management is susceptible to attacks. What are those things the Institute is doing in helping manpower in terms of prevention and security of data and information?
There are trainings that are being organised which are centred around schools, organisations and the Civil Service. The idea is to train people on how to manage, diseminate and archived information that should be timed. There are certain information that should go out at a particular time. Because it is not even in our curriculum in the first place, a whole lot of people come out of the University without understanding what information management is. It’s suppose to be a priority among the course in our university because you have to know how to manage information, your information and also the information of wherever it is that you have to manage.
Dr. Oyedokun, can you give us an insight into the institute forthcoming induction ceremony? What is on the lineup?
Come March 19th, the Institute of Information Management (IIM) will be organising the fourth induction, annual lecture and awards. The program is actually meant to induct new professionals into the institute because we strongly believe that in the same vein that you get to hear about having IT skill being important to all and sundry, the same thing is applicable to information management because in today’s world you need to be IT compliant with IT education for you to be able to function effectively. The same thing is applicable to information because what is the point having the box in front of you on your table and you are not in control of what actually goes into it. We are an advocate of if you have an IT department in your organisation, then you should have an IM (Information Management) Department in your organisation. The induction is actually meant to induct new members into the institute and also to let the whole know the need for them to manage information properly. Information Management is everybody’s business in any organisation be it the cleaner, security, operation staff, management and so on, information management skills and education is important because you will be shocked that certain confidential information could get to the hand of a cleaner for example and if he or she have not been properly trained on his or her own responsibility, such information could get into wrong hand because we are living in a world where we are all exposed to Information Risk. The advent of technology and internet has actually exposed us all because any single information out there could actually get out of hands just within seconds if not properly managed. It is very pertinent for individuals and organisations to acquire information management skills as at today so that we don’t fall prey of the information risk.