In a unique 'I-never-expected-it' twist, the Federal Government of Nigeria is forcing every civil servant to develop computer skills. And as an incentive or as I see it, a forcing technique, the Government put their promotions on the line. Moving your promotion exams from paper to the screen is the biggest motivation anybody needs to open their Windows (pun intended).
Now, let us backtrack a bit because you might not understand the full import of the fact that people in the employ of the Civil Service of Nigeria do not have basic computing skills until you are put through the works. If you have ever applied for a Nigerian Passport, processed taxes or done anything in any government office, then you know the frustration and pain that comes with battling a mountain of paper works. It is getting better, but the rate is too slow.
Blame them not for they know not how to use a computer. As surprising as it sounds, these civil servants cannot start up a computer. I saw this firsthand on a visit to an aunty in one of the numerous ministries in Abuja. Two year old computers looked crisp as chips as nobody touched them because nobody knew how to.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, was speaking to journalists in Abuja recently and she couldn't seem to stress the fact enough. According to her, any Civil Servant that failed to sharpen his or her skill to an appreciable extent would not partake in promotion exams.
A while ago, the Federal Government of Nigerian spent some hundreds of millions of Naira to get these same set of Civil Servants computer literate. Apparently, somebody chopped money and the civil servants didn't finish Desktop Publishing classes.
Millions spent on IT education and computing and yet cockroaches run across the floor when my paper file is pulled in some government offices. Who touches paper in large quantities these days anyway? Like we asked earlier today, is Nigeria going to get with innovative technology or just stay stuck in our pen and paper ways?
This move by the Civil Service to enforce computer education is laudable, I mean dear Mr and Mrs Civil Servant, if your promotion examinations do not motivate you to open Windows and air out the damp, nothing else will.