One of the methods adopted by government and non-governmental organizations the world over in evaluating its activities is through holding conferences either on monthly, quarterly, or annually where participants will gather and brainstorm on a range of issues with a view to arriving at a mutual understanding.
It is a known fact that conferences serve as platforms for participants to exchange ideas as professionals for the betterment of their field in anticipation to impact positively on the society as well as their organizations for them to operate in line with the global best practice. During such meetings participants from different locations will come together physically and seat side by side with their colleagues or any of the invited guests. This form of the fraternity has been in existence until 2019 when coronavirus struck the world and reverse is the case now.
Before the outbreak of coronavirus in 2019 participants attending conferences away from their places of aboard has to travel either by Air or Road despite risk involve in such trip to enable them to participate actively in the event. At times some of the issues usually discussed lasted for only a few hours, but participants who live far away from the venue will spend a whole day on the road traveling before arriving at the venue, aside risk involved in traveling.
Organizers of the conference will choose a suitable place for the conference without mindful of the distance where participants would come from. Also, organizers of such a conference will spend huge sums of money that will cover transportation; accommodation, and per dim of each participant.
However, in order to keep the chain, the virtual meeting is now being conducted through video with aid of Apps like Zoom, and GoToMeetingeeting as participation in such conference has now been modified with participants seat at the comfort of their homes or offices yet participates actively in a meeting without traveling for an inch to attend such conference. The virtual meetings which replaced conventional ones keep the participants engaged at the same time and have gone a long way in saving monies that were hitherto spent on participants by organizers.
The virtual meeting has kept members of organizations intact as it allows people to share information and data in real-time without being physically located together and decisions are taken. Members of the Nigeria Governors Forum that use to meet at the designated states to discuss national issues with each Governor have a long motorcade to travel to a far distance to attend such meetings is no longer visible. Each participant will be connected from his home state and the meeting goes where the far-reaching decision is taken as was seen on 9th July 2020 where the body conducted its meeting through zoom and resolved to engage with the Vice President to facilitate states representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainable Plan.
Group photograph during a conventional conference
Also, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Managing Director Capt. Rabiu Yadudu while addressing Journalists at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja attributed the successful resumption implementation of the reopening of flight operations was as a result of months of preparation with a lot of virtual meetings via zoom platform.
In the same vein, on the 24th June 2020 Leaders and Representatives from across the Commonwealth held a virtual meeting to share solutions on ways of working that can help to combat the impacts of COVID-19 because many member countries are facing unprecedented challenges in the health and other sectors.
Though, there are some challenges associated with the virtual conference, for one participant has to be computer literate and cell phones have to be internet compliance.
Virtual meeting in progress
There was also interruption in communication during the meeting due to poor network from service providers. However, the virtual meeting is less cost-effective and less stressful. Some of the merry-making associated with conventional conferences like taking group or individual photographs at the venue and exchange of pleasantries amongst the participants is no more
For probity and accountability, monies already earmarked for conferences in the budget by various organs of government and organizations should be a channel to other needs so as to improve the social well-being of the community. This will go a long way towards the attainment of much-needed development.
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