Aminat Isah, Abuja
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), says about $2 Billion is being expended on Information Technology (IT) projects on annual basis in Nigeria by Ministries, departments and agencies.
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Isa Pantami disclosed this at the Sensitization Workshop and Stakeholders’ Engagement On IT Project Clearance Portal and Draft Guidelines in Abuja on Tuesday.
The need for Nigeria to effectively benefit from the full potentials offered by ICT while cutting down on excessive fund expended by MDAs on ICT project is what the NITDA boss said has necessitated the Sensitization Workshop and Stakeholders’ Engagement On IT Project Clearance Portal and Draft Guidelines.
Pantami adds that the apparent disparity between increasing budgetary allocation and expenditures on IT projects and services and the insignificant increase in automation of public services is another reason that called for the concern of NITDA
“It may interest us that about $2 Billion is being expended on IT projects on annual basis in Nigeria.
“The need for proper co-ordination can therefore not be over-emphasized. A major step at properly addressing this is the IT Projects Clearance initiative in MDAs.
“It is an obvious fact that technology is set to play key roles in the current administration’s change mantra especially in the area of Security, Eradication of Corruption, and the Economy including diversification from an oil based monolithic economy to a knowledge based economy. Accordingly, NITDA is poised to ensure effective ICT deployment and ensure minimum global standards and value for money in ICT projects of all MDAs.
The DG, who was represented by his Technical Adviser, Kashifu Inuwa, averred that a major step at properly addressing the issue of wastage money in ICT projects is the IT Projects Clearance initiative in MDAs, as initial findings showed that many IT projects were riddled with the challenges such as the conceptualization and planning of many projects done poorly and without clear sustainability plans; Many IT projects were being done in silos, thereby leading to duplication, waste and redundancies; MDAs were embarking on projects that ‘sounded good’ based on contractor’s pitch rather than expressed need and priorities of the MDAs; and IT was increasingly becoming a conduit pipe to siphon huge public resources.
“Our goal at NITDA is to use the IT Projects Clearance process to correct the ills identified above and to further entrench IT product manufacturing and services in Nigeria.
“I am delighted to report to this gathering that our collaboration with relevant government organisations on this initiative is already yielding positive fruits. For instance, the Office for the Auditor General of the Federation now issues audit queries to MDAs who refuse to get NITDA clearance before embarking on their IT projects while The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is also partnering with us to investigate government agencies that might be breaching the NITDA guidelines and policies. We also have a firm understanding with the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) such that NITDA clearance is now a prerequisite for issuance of Certificates of No Objection on IT projects.
Our immediate plan is to automate the IT clearance process to make it more robust and efficient. The IT Clearance Portal is a state-of-the-art website with intelligent analytics capability that would make the clearance process more evidence based and transparent.” Said Pantami
He implore participants to support NITDA in its strive to make IT procurement more value-adding to all Nigerians.
Pantami said “I must put it on record that NITDA is highly encouraged by the support and encouragement from the Presidency. President Muhammad Buhari, GCFR who at the last e-Nigeria International Conference commended the IT Projects Clearance initiative and gave his full support to the process. The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON has not only supported, but he has directed that IT projects under his purview must have NITDA clearance before implementation. The validation we have received from agencies such as CBN, EFCC, Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF), and BPP among many others who have undergone the clearance process has reassured us, that the right steps are being taken to address the hydra-headed challenges facing the sector and public sector investment in Information Technology.”
The Chairman, IT projects Clearance Committee, Usman Abdullahi during the presentation of “ Principles and Objectives of the NITDA IT Project Clearance enumerated some of the purposes of the guidelines to include; non replication of IT projects: INTEGRATION of IT systems by MDAs to save cost, promote shared services, interoperability and improve efficiency: ensure the technology and services being procured are suitable for the country from point of view of security and the environment, among others.
The Guideline stipulates that MDAs shall obtain approval in writing , from NITDA, for all their IT projects by filling a copy of Form ICT1, while a breach of the Guidelines is a criminal offence under section 17 and 18 NITDA Act 2007
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