By Victoria Ikeano
The Nasarawa state government is boosting its internally generated revenue through information, communicaton technology (ICT), otherwise known as digital economy which has received new impetus under Governor Abdullahi Sule. The senior special assistant to the Nasarawa state governor on ICT, Hon. Maryam Muhammad Gajere in an exclusive interview said that the state’s ICT agency which formerly concentrated on e-libraries and the command centre has been expanded in scope to cover all aspects of ICT, adding that the state was now embracing e-governance including e-education, e-agriculture, e-health.
She said that the state-owned CBT centre in Lafia, the state capital was the only one of its kind in the federation, disclosing that the government earned over ten million naira for each Interim Joint Matriculation Board examination held there. According to her, the government also got good revenue for other third party examinations that take place at the CBT centre, stating further that plans were afoot to establish two more such centres in Keffi and Akwanga.
Hon. Maryam Gajere intimated that the ICT hubs commissioned last year by the governor is also yielding it a lot of money. She remarked that the government was now implementing fully, the treasury single account (TSA) which is a central billing system. “This enables the state government to know what is coming into the treasury and what is going out and allows the government to leverage on other sectors in the state that will add value to the digital economy”, she remarked.
Hon. Gajere averred that with a sliding oil and gas sector, digital economy was the solution and the way to go. “So the digital economy drive that the federal government is embarking on and which Nasarawa State has keyed into is bringing a lot of returns in terms of revenue generation”. It was learnt that the digital economy contributed some 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019. The SSA on ICT said that the state government was collating a data base of its farmers to create an e-agriculture platform that would enable genuine farmers get direct access to fertilizers and other inputs rather than such inputs being hijacked by middlemen. She added that they could also rent tractors and other equipment through the platform from the state’s ministry of agriculture.
On making the citizens ICT compliant, she informed that the state governor has held meetings with Microsoft to train all Nasarawa teachers as well as equip them, including primary schools. The state’s civil servants had undergone a three-month computer training in the last quarter of last year, just as the government made available a loan package to enable them buy their own personal laptops.