National Service?

Online registration seems like something that should have been here ages ago but like everything else in this country, it takes donkey years to bring a good idea to fruition. We used it to show our problem-riddled use of technology again! Just a simple registration process and we opened a can of worms hiding in the corner of this our ‘beautiful idea’ of NYSC online registration. People waited for 13 hours for the system to mail a link so they could start the registration process. This is something that should never happen in this day and age! Some were sympathetic about the whole problem. They said “There were too many people on the site at the same time, that was why it was ‘hanging’”. Before this system was implemented there must have been proper study and they should have built the system to cater for an estimated number of people who would gate crash the registration process immediately it begins, so that excuse is untenable. Apparently, nobody did this and we were all thrown into long hours of frustration that led to this article.

The problems with the online registration continued in shameful fashion. There were drop down menus that never dropped down and some biometric devices functioning only with Java Version 6 and 7, meanwhile what is readily available online is version 8. So one has to downgrade in order to use the device. Is this because someone got the contract to supply these devices and he got the low cost version that is outdated and can’t work with the latest version of Java? Seems like to me! Why can’t the biometric data be taken from the nation’s database, considering the fact that all this information has already been taken for National ID card and the infamous BVN number registration. Does this mean every government office will now start its independent data collection instead of leveraging on the available data and saving cost? When will we get ready for efficient use of available technology and information?

Another show of shame is the frequent and almost mandatory delay of flights in Nigeria. Why does it have to happen so often? If you know you can’t fly by a certain time, advertise a time that will enable you accommodate your usual delay or ‘operational reasons’. I would rather come to the airport for a flight by 5pm if I know we will leave by 5pm than book a flight for 2pm and end up leaving by 4pm! Some times flights are cancelled after passengers have checked in and are waiting for the flight. It is totally beyond my humble understanding! Some of the problems are just plainly unacceptable! What baffles me the most is that we all sit in the departure lounge smiling like nothing out of the ordinary is happening! Welcome to Nigeria! The world’s capital for suffering and smiling!

Why can’t we just adopt something good and use it properly? Why can’t we create a system that can accommodate the basic problems associated with such a system and create solutions for them? We have consistently found a way to make the most inefficient use of information and technology. Let us not even go into the non-functional phone numbers placed on government websites. 24/7 they are switched off or they would never be picked. The lines will ring endlessly. Our attitude towards customer satisfaction, especially in the public sector, is terribly apathetic.

While I hope and pray for things to get better, it seems there is no end in sight. Those who should stem the tide are perpetrators of these vices in more conniving and artful ways. It would seem our ability to use the internet is limited to scheming,  creatively inspired social media jibes usually directed at our leaders for crimes we have helped them to commit. We are obsessed with attacking the Government (I’m not absolving them from blame), but these systems that are failing, including the government, are not individuals on their own but are made up of insincere, inefficient and dispassionate people like us. If we sit and accommodate the rot, it will spread and consume us all. We need to learn to speak up when things are wrong! People should not be allowed to treat us badly especially when we are paying for a service. We need Servicom to stand up to its responsibilities. We all deserve to be served right!

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