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NCS: Registration not NITDA’s mandate

NITDA: Act empowers us to register

National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Information Technology (IT) professionals under the auspices of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) are currently at daggers-drawn on the propriety of the Agency’s decision to begin registration and licensing of all IT companies in the country, New Telegraph has learnt.

According to NCS, which tackled the Agency as working outside its mandate, the Computer Professionals Registrations Council of Nigeria (CPN) “is the only agency with the mandate to register and license IT professionals and contractors in Nigeria.”

NITDA, in a document last Monday, had disclosed its plan to begin registration and licensing of all indigenous IT contractors and service providers for the purposes of procurements, public private partnerships (PPPs) and other forms of engagement with government establishments and private sector.

The move, according to NITDA, was born out of rise in the number of failing IT projects within federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). NITDA said that its investigations had revealed that over 90 per cent of IT projects in MDAs and other government establishments failed annually with above  95 per cent of their security are compromised.

Consequently, the NITDA Director-General, Dr. Isa Pantami, said “in order to curtail this and in line with the Agency’s mandate and the recent Presidential Executive Order 005 for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology, as mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari, the registration and licensing of IT contractors and service providers has become expedient.”

He also explained that the process aims at ensuring the emergence of robust indigenous IT service providers and contractors, guaranteeing the delivery of sustainable IT projects as well as engendering professionalism in the IT service industry.

“The process will also ensure that IT projects in MDAs will only be executed by indigenous companies where in-country capacity exists. As part of the process, NITDA will monitor and ensure the capacity development of Nigerians employed by IT contractors and other service providers,” he said.

“Furthermore, the agency will, in conjunction with relevant agencies, investigate any project that has failed to determine the root cause of the failure and apply sanctions where necessary or to refer such cases to other relevant authorities.”

Pantami explained that as the agency of government responsible for the overall IT policy formulation and implementation, “Section 6(a & c) of the NITDA Act specifically mandates the agency to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardisation, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of IT practices, activities and systems in Nigeria; and render advisory services in all information technology matters to the public and private sectors.”

But speaking with this newspaper, the umbrella body of IT professionals in the country, NCS has frowned at the agency’s move, saying the latter lacks the mandate to register IT companies in the country.

President of NCS, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, said the society’s attention had been drawn to a policy document released by NITDA dated February 12, 2018, which, on general principle, is to register and license all IT contractors in Nigeria.

“Our position, as computer professionals, is that this is not part of NITDA’s mandate because as the name suggests, this Agency is to plan, promote and develop regulatory framework and guidelines as stated in NITDA Act 2007, section 6a,” he said.

Instead, Aderounmu said the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993 is actually saddled with the mandate “to register, license, supervise and control the profession as stated in CPN Act section 1 (2).”

He said NITDA’s move was capable of confusing the general public to create an uncoordinated approach to policy issues and both Acts of Parliament.

Consequently, “NCS is of the belief that NITDA’s mandate is to ensure seamless cooperation and interaction towards the use of IT as a development tool for the country,” he said. Meanwhile, Aderounmu has lauded the approach and wisdom of the Presidential Executive Order 005 of President Muhammadu Buhari, which emphasises professionalism in IT practice in the country.

“The Public Procurement Act 2007, with particular reference to section 19, if properly implemented, will promote best practices professionally. On a related note, CPN Act section 22 states that failure to engage professional practitioners is an offence in Nigeria punishable under the Act,” he said.

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