The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the agency saddled with the responsibility of implementing the country's Information Technology (IT) policy, has described as outrageous, the N42.5 billion presented by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government in the 2017 Appropriation Bill, for the execution of IT projects.
The Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, who made the observation in Abuja recently, said: "The Agency's assessment of the 2017 Appropriation Bill revealed that MDAs proposed to spend approximately N42.5 billion on IT projects, which represents 2.1 per cent of the total capital budget of N2.04 trillion."
Pantami cautioned all MDAs of government to henceforth, stop executing IT projects without getting clearance and approval from the Agency.
He said the move became imperative to ensure that maximum value is derived from such huge investment of public funds, especially at a time when the need for accountable, transparent, efficient and effective public spending is high on the current administration's agenda.
"We are therefore calling on MDAs and other government establishments to ensure that their IT projects in the 2017 Appropriation Act are put forward for clearance before implementation. It should be noted that a breach of the provision of NITDA Act and any other directive pursuant to the Act is an offence under Section 17 and punishable under Section 18 of the Act," Pantami said.
He stated that all MDAs as well as other government establishments, must seek clearance from the Agency before embarking on any IT project.
The caution is in line with Section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007, as well as Service-wide Circular from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), which makes the Agency the clearing house for all IT procurement in the public sector.
Pantami listed the objectives of the clearance exercise to include ensuring transparency in IT procurement by MDAs and other government establishments; alignment of IT projects/investments with MDAs and other government establishments' mandates and functions as well as government IT shared vision and policy; integration of IT systems and services to save costs, promote shared services, interoperability and improve efficiency.
Other objectives include establishing indigenous capacity for after-sales-service to sustain the project beyond the initial deployment; that the project promotes indigenous content and that preference is given to indigenous companies where capacity or the product or service exists; that the technology being implemented is up-to-date; that the technology and services being procured are suitable for the country from the point of view of security and the environment, among others.
According to Pantami, "The realisation that government's investments in IT over the years were not commensurate with the value derived from such investments and had also failed to evolve a digitally-enabled public service that will advance the citizens' yearnings of digital economy, made it necessary for strategic repositioning of IT procurement in the public sector."
NITDA is an Agency under the Federal Ministry of Communications. The Agency was created in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate general IT development and regulation in the country.