President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, said the Federal Government is saving N24.3bn monthly as a result of public financial management reforms embarked upon by his administration.
Declaring open this year’s e-Nigeria international conference and exhibition organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Buhari said the enforcement of government’s policy on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has facilitated the recovery of huge sums of money including the recent N1.6bn.
He said the enforcement of the policy on TSA, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the impact they had made on the administration’s public financial management reforms resulted into huge savings for the government.
“In addition to the consolidation of accounts and elimination of ghost workers that resulted in a combined monthly savings of about N24.7 billion, the TSA facilitated the recovery of huge sums of money including the recent N1.6 billion from a single account,” he said.
The President further said that the policy initiatives reinforce his administration’s fight against corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in government business transactions.
“Of particular note is NITDA’s initiative focused on the registration of IT contractors and service providers in collaboration with other regulatory bodies with special emphasis on competencies. This will ensure the delivery of quality IT projects, as well as facilitate the development of indigenous IT companies in line with global best practices,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President has said that stiff penalties await defaulters of the government’s directive that all IT projects in the country be cleared by NITDA before implementation.
He said compliance with the directive will ensure that government’s ICT procurements are transparent, aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy, and lead to cost savings through promotion of shared services, and avoiding duplications among others.
“NITDA is expected to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full compliance with this directive. Defaulters of IT clearance among the public establishments are to be reported to government.
“We are serious about fighting corruption. We must not fail in our quest to eliminate corruption in government businesses and in the wider society,” he said.
The president also stated that his administration’s Social Investment Programme (SIP), tagged as the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme, relied heavily on the application of ICT.
“Components of programmes such as the N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) all leverage on ICT. This programme has so far benefited over nine million Nigerians,” he said.
He said NITDA, in collaboration with the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), is coordinating the Federal Government’s initiative of establishing eight innovation hubs, one in each of the six geo-political zones and one each in Lagos and Abuja.
“The purpose of establishing these hubs is to facilitate digital capacity building for immediate employment, entrepreneurial skills development, job and wealth creation. All these are aimed at promoting the digital economy in an era of disruptive technology through effective regulations,” he said.
He enjoined the Conference to come up with innovative ideas, workable and implementable recommendations that would help and enhance government’s efforts at creating the enabling environment for the promotion of the digital economy in an era of disruptive technologies, considering the country’s peculiarities.
President Buhari also revealed that the country’s ICT sector contributed 11.81 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year as against the previous 10 percent, emerging as one of the key performers.
Minister of Communications Barr. Adebayo Shittu said the impact of ICTs could be felt in virtually every area of human endeavour and that countries around the world were taking advantage of disruptive technologies to transform their economies.
‘’It is therefore expedient for us to position ourselves to be key players in the emerging digital economy,’’ he said.
He said the Nigerian ICT sector is open for investment and that it was noteworthy that the Foreign Direct Investment in the sector has increased from $3.2bn in 2015 to $4bn in 2018.
The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said the agency was gradually making efforts at creating digital economy that will rely on knowledge not resources.
In his address, a former chairman of the EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, said corruption, which was the reason for the country’s underdevelopment could be eradicated using latest technologies like Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.