Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) has accused various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of manipulating NITDA and lawmakers to siphon money through the budget, annually.
Pantami, pointing at the rot he met at the agency when he assumed office, blamed successive leadership of NITDA for abdicating their responsibilities which cost Nigeria several billions of Naira in losses.
The NITDA boss, spoke when he was honoured as a Friend of the Media, by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), at its Press Freedom Awards 2018.
He said the agency throughout its history never regulated Information Technology (IT), in the country, even as that forms one of the core mandates of the agency.
He said it has been manipulated by various government ministries, departments and agencies to siphon money through the budget, annually.
According to him, the MDAs, usually capitalise on the ignorance of the legislators on IT to get such fraudulent budget estimates passed when in the true sense of it, there was no clearance for such IT projects as stated in the budgets.
However, he said on his arrival, such leakages have been blocked with IT Clearance policy now made mandatory for all MDAs.
This, he said, had led to the saving of about N10 billion for the country in two years of his administration.
“Before I came on board, NITDA had been established since 2001 and I joined the agency in 2016. Throughout the history, there was no time that the IT sector was regulated by it.
“It is only when I came on board that I discovered that we need to regulate IT in the country. And the first thing we started doing was to ensure that all IT projects in the MDAs are cleared, technically and professionally executed because before I came on board, many MDAs see IT projects as a conduit for siphoning money. When they go for budget defence, most of our legislators do not know what IT is all about. So, people find it easy to manipulate them and the budget passed without the necessary questions.
“With this IT clearance, huge amount of money has been saved, about N10bn so far, in addition to technical values added.”
Also speaking, Pantami said through this regulation, the administration makes sure it promotes our cybersecurity by creating public awareness about cybersecurity as part of the regulation.
Also on regulation, he stated that NITDA now ensures that local companies, indigenous ICT products are deployed in the MDAs, adding that: “We do not allow importation of IT products unless we discovered we do not have the capacity in the country.
“These are some of the initiatives we have taken, which by implication have been creating digital jobs, supporting our indigenous IT companies, and they are happy. They say the level of patronage as of today is very high compared to before. This is a clear indication that the economy is being supported by this regulation.”
According to the NITDA boss, “MDAs are no more using ICT to syphon money unnecessarily, adding that the entire sleaze may not be completely stopped but has been stopped at least 90% so far