The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government of stricter and thorough vetting process in its approval for any IT project to be embarked upon.
The Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, made it known in an interview with the New Telegraph that it is has now become compulsory for any MDA to get basic approval from NITDA before embarking on any IT-related projects, stressing the agency will be more rigid on the approval process by 2018.
He also made it known that the need to get approval from NITDA before such projects are carried out by the concerned MDA is not new, as such laws are already enshrined in the NITDA Act, however the problem has been ineffective implementation of the law but he quickly noted that the agency is taking that aspect of the Act serious now and promised to be tougher on the approval process come 2018.
Pantami explained that the amount of Money that has been spent for many years in IT procurements by MDAs is running in billions of dollars in Nigeria.
“But if you go there to check the quality of the projects, you realize that it is nothing to write home about. You cannot justify the amount of money spent on the IT projects. We are not talking about millions of dollars; we are talking about billions of dollars.
How can you justify that billions of Naira spent with the value of such projects,” he said.
He however stressed that what NITDA is focusing on now is effective regulation and implementation of existing, but not new, laws. While expatiating on this, Pantami said: “Without regulation, how can you manage the IT procurement activities of MDA? We are not worried about the amount of the money, but the justification and where the value for the money is. That is the justification. “With perfect regulation, we must ensure that whatever we deploy, we have the capacity to manage it.
But in Nigeria, we fail to do that particularly in the previous years,” he said. Citing one of such projects, Pantami said the close circuit television (CCTV) project implemented by some MDAs in Abuja failed, citing lack of effective or no regulation at all for the failure of the project.
“Look at the billions that were spent on that project. Where are the CCTV cameras today? How can you justify that project? The money has been released and spent. Where is the justification? What are the significances of the CCTV cameras in Abuja? Which crime has been handled effectively in Nigeria through the CCTV camera, even in Abuja itself?” he quipped.
However, the NITDA DG said people are more interested in an environment that is not regulated because of personal and selfish interests. “I will be glad to hear that there is agitation against regulation; I’ll be every much happy because any decision that brings change is very unpopular at the beginning but in the end, people will realise how important it is,” he said.
He wondered how some companies import IT equipment into Nigeria without going through effective Customs clearance. “We are sure that our decision to regulate IT procurement of MDAs is right. We are not after whether it is popular to people or it is unpopular.
What we are after are, one: to ensure people understand what the law says and secondly, we are anticipating a positive result at the end as long as this is to ensure probity and deliver maximum value to government. “I will give an example through this clearance we are talking about. In the beginning of 2017, we reviewed an IT project. We intervened.
We improved the quality of the project significantly. We trained staff on it and we saved the government money running into over N500 million. This is what we did on only one project for one agency,” he said.
On what they did for the company, he said: “We invited the company, we discussed with its officials, we reviewed the project significantly and when we discussed the money, N500 million was saved on only one project.
We saved this money and NITDA did not get one kobo. But what we are after is to serve our country.”
He added that when the issues of compliance with regulations by industry players are advocated, regulatory bodies are being misunderstood, “whereas, we are regulating not to jeopardize or frustrate their operations; but to ensure there is value for you money and that there is sustainability and at the same time, to ensure that there is collaboration between relevant organizations because you cannot do IT projects in silos.”
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