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IT experts take sector’s challenges to Buhari

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Buhari received Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria led by Prof. Charles Uwadia at the State House, Abuja. Photo; TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Information and Technology (IT) professionals in Nigeria have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the country’s quest for a revamped economy.

They also advocated a new tax regime for imported software.

Led by the President/Chairman-in-Council of Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN), Prof. Charles Uwadia, on a congratulatory visit to Buhari in Abuja, yesterday, they experts said “this has become necessary if the country must measure up with developed nations” in the area of technology.

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Uwadia, in his speech, thanked the president for recognising the importance of digitisation with the renaming of the Ministry of Communication as Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

He however, called for the effective implementation of the digital economy.

But to achieve this, the professionals appealed to Buhari to direct Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to priortise the computerisation of their key processes and activities. They stressed that automation of all government operations starting with the front end could be completed in one year.

At least, a recognised IT professional must be a member of the boards and councils of all MDAs to accelerate the nation’s move towards a digital economy by ensuring appropriate and effective deployment of IT for governance, they suggested.

The Uwadia-led team, which included the president of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya; Director-General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Danazumi Mohammed; Provost, College of Fellows, CPN, Prof. Adenike Osofisan; the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub, Dr. Chris Uwaje, among others, also canvassed support for IT professionalism in the country.

The team sought presidential intervention for the recognition of computer professional examination certificates, disclosing that the office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) had been handling the recognition process since 2008.

According to them, recognised professionals must be the head of all government IT departments and units at all tiers if government.

“A major requirement for appointing an individual as director (or its equivalent) should be CPN/NCS membership,” they demanded.

The experts pleaded for enhanced support for local content development and youth employment.

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To create 1.5 million jobs in the IT sector in the next two years, they called on the Federal Government to impose a Software Import Tax of an amount to be determined by the appropriate government authorities on all software imported into Nigeria.

“The fund from this tax regime should be used to fund local software development activities in Nigeria. It is also important to mandate all foreign ICT companies to establish local research and development laboratories in Nigeria. Your Excellency, we respectfully invite you to be the Chief Marketing Officer for Made in Nigeria Software,” they stressed.

In the areas of youth development, the IT professionals noted that there should an establishment of Credit Guarantee Scheme by the government to support working capital credit extension to qualified ICT firms in Nigeria, stressing that this will increase youth employment and return on investment.

The IT professionals also want directive that will ensure banks reserve a percentage of their loan portfolio for technological research and development thereby ensuring that 60 per cent of their digital processes is made up of local content.

In the areas of diversification of the economy, they called on Mr. President to establish a model IoT- based agriculture in all the zones of the country.

They suggested that the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Ministry of Agriculture and the IT professionals can be saddled with this responsibility. “This economic diversification strategy can yield over N10 trillion yearly and contribute over 15 per cent to the national GDP.”

Earlier at the meeting, the IT professionals, commended President Buhari for issuance of Executive Order (EO1)on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, Executive Order (EO3) on support for local content in public procurement by the Federal Government and Executive Order (E05) on planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology; unveiling of the National Digital Economy Policy at the 2019 e-Nigeria Conference, Exhibition and Awards.

The President was also appreciated for the implementation and enforcement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) which saved the Nigeria billions of Naira by eliminating thousands of ghost workers.

“We equally appreciate the president for the effective implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), and increasing government revenue by over N3 trillion as well as entrenching transparency and accountability. Implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN), thus tackling corruption by plugging loopholes for siphoning of public funds and tracking of illicit funds through multiple accounts Institutionalizing E-governance thereby setting the foundation for the creation of a truly digital economy,” they stated.

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