BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR,
In a bid to stem corruption in the procurement process by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all institutions of government to ensure full compliance with Information Technology[IT] clearance being undertaken by National Information Technology Development Agency[NITDA].
Buhari who gave the charge in Abuja on Monday while declaring open the 2018 eNigeria International Conference and Exhibition, organised by NITDA, warned that any government agency that flouts the directive should be reported for necessary action.
This is even as the President disclosed that, “NITDA, in collaboration with the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), was coordinating Federal Government’s initiative of establishing eight (8) Innovation Hubs, one in each of the six geo-political zones and one each in Lagos and Abuja.
The purpose of establishing these hubs, according to Buhari, was to facilitate digital capacity building for immediate employment, entrepreneurial skills development,job and wealth creation.
‘‘All these are aimed at promoting the digital economy in an era of disruptive technology through effective regulations,” he said.
President Buhari said NITDA was expected to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full compliance with this directive, in line with the Executive Order 3 and 5 of 2018.
Recall that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, [SGF] had issued a new Circular in August this year, to reiterate Federal Government’s earlier directive in the administration’s efforts at ensuring full realisation of the objectives of protecting local innovators and promoting local content.
According to President, “This will ensure that government’s ICT procurements are transparent, aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy, lead to cost savings through promotion of shared services, avoid duplication and ensure compatibility of IT systems and improve efficiency in government business.
Other benefits, he said, would enforce the patronage of indigenous companies where capacity exists and uphold the highest standards for service delivery.
‘‘NITDA is expected to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full compliance with this directive. Defaulters of IT Clearance among the public establishments are to be reported to government.
‘‘We are serious about fighting corruption. We must not fail in our quest to eliminate corruption in government businesses and in the wider society.
‘‘You may recall the issuance of Presidential Executive Order 003 mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services, in order to strengthen its implementation as well as provide clear policy directions.
‘‘Presidential Executive Order 005 was also issued in February this year. This is part of the administration’s deliberate efforts and strong commitment at strengthening the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in the country’s socio-economic development.
‘‘Of particular note is NITDA’s initiative focused on the Registration of IT Contractors and Service Providers in collaboration with other regulatory bodies with special emphasis on competencies. This will ensure the delivery of quality IT projects, as well as facilitate the development of indigenous IT companies in line with global best practices.
‘‘You may also recall the remark about NITDA’s efforts at enforcing Federal Government’s directive on ensuring that all ICT projects in the country are cleared by it before implementation.
‘‘This will ensure that government’s ICT procurements: are transparent, aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy, lead to cost savings through promotion of shared services, avoid duplication, ensure compatibility of IT systems and improve efficiency in government business, enforce the patronage of indigenous companies where capacity exists; and uphold the highest standards for service delivery.
‘‘In this administration’s efforts at ensuring full realisation of these objectives, a new Circular was issued in August this year, to reiterate this directive.’’
The President encouraged NITDA to work with relevant regulatory agencies to ensure strict compliance with these new regulatory instruments, saying that the agency’s work on the Nigerian ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Vision that focuses on the development of Digital Infrastructure, Education Reform, Skills Development and Research and Development as well as supporting the ecosystem is highly commendable.
‘‘I understand that the agency worked with relevant stakeholders in developing the document. I continue to encourage the Agency to use its regulatory instruments in ensuring full socialisation and implementation of this document.
‘‘We emphasised the need for the public service to be highly competitive, innovative and digitally-enabled to deliver public services and effectively drive government programs and policies.
“I note that NITDA and other relevant government agencies have taken this up by creating the enabling environment through the development of policies, frameworks, standards and guidelines.
‘‘I am aware that some of these regulatory instruments have been subjected to critical scrutiny and revision through a series of stakeholder engagements. Efforts should be intensified at making them public as well as sensitising public servants and the general public about the value of these regulatory instruments.
‘‘ The enforcement of the use of the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the impact they have made on the administration’s public financial management reforms.’’
In addition to the consolidation of accounts and elimination of ghost workers that resulted in a combined monthly savings of about N24.7 billion, he disclosed that the TSA facilitated the recovery of huge sums of money including the recent N1.6 billion from a single account, adding that these policy initiatives had reinforced the administration’s fight against corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in government business transactions.
He therefore enjoined the participants at the conference to come up with innovative ideas, workable and implementable recommendations that would help and enhance government’s efforts at creating the enabling environment for the promotion of the digital economy in an era of disruptive technologies, considering our peculiarities as a country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami said the agency’s roadmap between 2007-2020 has started yielding the desired results.
Beyond capacity building of staff and Nigerians, he said the agency has saved N13 billion in the last two years of implementation of its new regulatory guidelines, aimed at repositioning the economy from resource-based to a knowledge based economy.