On November 28 last year, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) at the opening ceremony of the e-Nigeria Conference, Exhibitions and Awards. Earlier, on May 24 of the same year, the Nigeria e-Government Master Plan (NeGMP) was approved and launched by the Federal Executive Council, all in clear determination of the government to maximally reap from the $3 trillion digital economy, which is more than the entire gross domestic product of the United Kingdom, and also representing 30 per cent of the S&P stock market index, which measures the performance of the 500 top companies listed on various stock exchanges.
These two documents under reference set clear directions for government’s digital transformation in Nigeria. In making for easier understanding of the concept, Brass Tacks today analyses a speech delivered by Malam Kashifu Inuwa, the director-general of the National Informstion Technology Development Agency (NITDA), on Thursday, August 27, 2020, at the inauguration of chairmen of digital transformation technical working group of federal public institutions.
Talking about the documents under reference, Makam Kashifu emphasised how his organisation, NITDA, has been taking strategic and deliberate steps to implement the two documents to the letter. In his words: “Globally, as a best practice, Enterprise Architecture is being used as a standard tool for implementing digital transformation plan and strategy. In the digital economy era, Governments must envisage how digital technologies and processes can be translated into a scalable architecture prepared for short, medium and long-term strategies. This is to reduce the complexity associated with digital transformation and accelerate the achievement ofexpected values from the deployment of IT systems, digital technologies and innovations. To buttress this point, research by IDC suggested that 60 per cent of digital transformation initiatives will not be able to scale because of the lack of strategic architecture. IDC also predicted that 70 per cent of digital transformation will fail because of insufficient collaboration, integration, and sourcing or project management.”
Explaining further, Kashifu said that in order “to ensure federal public institutions (FPIs) are properly guided and protected against these pitfalls while implementing digital initiatives; ensure the persistent rate of IT failures are drastically reduced; government businesses and digital technologies are properly aligned for the acceleration of digital transformation in Nigeria, the Pantami led NITDA in 2018 and 2019 when I was the technical adviser developed Nigeria e-Government Interoperability Framework (Ne-GIF) and Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA). These documents form the foundation for taking government-wide IT deployment from silo-based to an integrated whole-of-government approach and ultimately an asset for digital government transformation.
“The current silo situation is as a result of the fact that each public institution is good at deploying IT systems for each of its strategic initiative and specific service without recourse to a national IT architecture and interoperability framework that follows and ensures a pre-determined process and operating model for IT systems deployment across Public Institutions.
“To address this problem, the NGEA proposed an operating model that has two value propositions. The first value proposition promotes One Government (whole-of-government) agenda and the second guarantees the autonomy of each Federal Public Institutions (FPIs) to make certain decisions around business processes, digital services and applications. The seven layers of NGEA, which are Business, Service, Data, Application, IT Infrastructure, Security and Performance, are centred around people and processes. Each layer has high-level expectations for FPIs and as well specifies best practices, standards, tools, reference models and recommendations that will help achieve the value propositions and citizens expectations for government digital services.
“In order to properly govern and ensure desirable outcomes from every IT deployment by FPIs, the NGEA proposes an IT engagement model that intends to institutionalise government-wide IT governance, IT project management and coordinating mechanisms. The coordinating mechanism is a watchdog governance structure which is being carried out by the National IT Project Clearance Committee. The government-wide IT governance and IT projects management structure is proposed to be carried out at the level of FPIs themselves.
“All these initiatives, if properly implemented, willprogressively build an enabling environment and foundation for digital transformation in the FPIs. Hence, NITDA under the directives of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has embarked on the following initiatives:
1. Established and coordinating NGEA/Ne-GIF National Implementation Committee comprising of about 40 critical FPIs representatives and IT industry players to govern and advise on government-wide digitization of processes and functions;
2. Phased assessment of IT systems, Digital Services and Capabilities of Federal Public Institutions (FPIs) to establish AS-IS. We had completed 100 FPIs while we in the process of completing the next 100 FPIs;
3. Provision of personalised advice to FPIs on their current state of IT deployment and recommendations on business process and ITdeployment optimisation;
4. Phased establishment of the Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) to coordinate government-wide IT governance and IT projects management;
5. Development and implementation of Electronic Document Management System Guidelines, Business Process Management and Digitisation Guide, Digital Transformation Tool Kits for FPIs;
6. Development of a G2G portal on “NGEA.GOV.NG to among other things, onboard, measure and engage FPIs, warehouse and publish public sector IT data and statistics in standard formats that support open data initiatives and innovations, monitor performance and digital transformation of FPIs and coordinate activities of DT-TWGs on several activities related to the digital economy; and
7. Promotion of digital end-to-end for Government Digital Services (GDS).
Achieving whole-of-Government calls for a shift in the culture of the public service, the mindset of the public officers and the way e-Government and IT systems are being deployed.
To that effect, the DG NITDA emphasized that “the deployment should automatically enable seamless interoperability and exchange of data across Public Institutions. Digital Transformation calls for a rethink in the way public institutions do business, deliver public value and experience to customers. Public institutions should be looking for innovative ways to leverage digital to deliver value better than ever before. Doing this requires capabilities in Government, to create and deliver the expected value to customers. Transformation cannot happen effectively on the outside unless it happens on the inside.
“Today, we have taken a step to establish Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) across 129 Federal Public Institutions (FPIs)with the following responsibilities of:
1. Playing the role of advocates for the digital economy and digital transformation-related activities;
2. Advising their Management on adoption and utilization of digital technologies for business transformation and effective digital service delivery;
3. Guiding automation and digitization of Government business processes;
4. Providing support and guidance for initiation and implementation of IT projects;
5. Ensuring IT and Government business alignment;
6. Proposing and implementing initiatives to enhance Government Digital Services (GDS);
7. Ensuring GDS and IT projects implementation isin compliance with the provisions of National Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), Nigeria e-Government Master Plan, IT Projects Clearance Policy and Guidelines, Nigeria e-Government Interoperability Framework (Ne-GIF), Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA), Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and other National ICT/e-Government documents;
8. Developing and implementing their organization ICT plan and Enterprise Architecture (EA) including solution architecture for IT deployment;
9. Perform any other functions that may be assigned by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and in line with the provision of NITDA Act, 2007.”
Malam Kashifu added that the composition of “DT-TWG shall consist of at least five (5) members cutting across strategic departments with two (2) persons from the IT/ICT/e-Government department and three (3) other persons from core business departments. The Group shall be chaired by the Director/Head of ICT/IT/e-Government. Where there is no such designation, then the Chief Executives are at the liberty to choose the leader of the Group.
“Accordingly, after the inauguration of the chairmen of the group by the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, it is your responsibility to immediately constitute your organisations’ DT-TWGs as directed by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari. From the assessment, there are insights into the capabilities gap that must be closed. We would embark on amassive training and capacity building for the DT-TWG members by September 21th, 2020, at this centre. The program is expected to empower about500 members of DT-TWGs across the first set of Federal Public Institutions (FPIs). The aim is to empower them to be able to discharge their responsibilities efficiently. It is going to be a customised training to aid them accelerate and lead their organisations’ digital transformation.
“Furthermore, based on the last IT systems, digital services and capability assessment for the 100 FPIs, we will today recognize outstanding FPIs in the following categories:
1. The top ICT strategic plan implementing institution;
2. The top data localization compliant institution;
3. The top ICT infrastructure and services outsourcing institution;
4. The top IT security readiness institution;
5. The top interoperability readiness institution;
6. The top Enterprise Architecture implementing institution;
7. The top Government Digital Service institution;and
8. The top digital economy readiness institution.
The DG NITDA concluded by thanking the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, for his leadership role towards a digital Nigeria, and wish the winners the best on their readiness for the digital economy and the journey towards attaining digital transformation in the public sector.
The tragedy of being poor in Nigeria
Penultimate week, I paid an unscheduled visit to a commissioner friend of mine in one of the northwestern states and, because I was in a hurry, I parked my car outside the premises and trekked to the gate, where I met five security agents on duty. I greeted them and proceeded on my trip to the main building.
All of a sudden, however, one of the security personnel shouted at me, asking who gave me the permission to do so without seeking what he called security clearance from them. I apologised and returned to their duty post, where they subjected me to all sorts of ridiculous questions. After obviously satisfying them with my answers, they asked me to fill in details about my address, phone number, email address and other particulars in a book, which I did. I was then permitted to proceed.
It was, however, while all that was happening, that I realized my mistake when I saw tens of visitors coming in with their cars, with no one asking them any question or subjecting them to any scrutiny. Once they blared their horn, the security personnel would just open the gate, and salute the occupants, if the car was a good one.
Having realized my ‘mistake,’ I vowed to as much as possible never repeat it, and so, on a visit to another agency of government, I made straight for the gate in my car, and it was promptly opened. I was given a very smart salute by a Civil Defence officer at the gate and no one asked me any question. Those, however, that made the same ‘mistake’ that I made by parking their cars outside, or those who didn’t have any, were subjected to the same rigours that I experienced days earlier.
Just last weekend, also, I accompanied a friend to the Abuja residence of a very top traditional ruler in the North. Since I was not the main visitor, I parked my car outside, and for the next 30 minutes or so that I waited inside, I saw that all that one required to gain unrestrained access to the compound was a good car, and the security personnel would come running to open the gate. I saw how easy it could be to harm that very senior citizen, as those who got in with their cars were just ushered to his living room without being known or asked any question. Imagine the implication if one of them came with a bad intent.
The story is told of a top politician who stormed an important event that he was invited to, but without dressing gorgeously. He was denied entry at the gate, even when he showed his invitation card. The gatemen did not even care to read the name written on the card and shouted at him to disappear from the scene, which he helplessly did.
This top politician also realised his ‘mistake’ and quickly ran back home, where he dressed in a very flamboyant attire. Upon his return to the same venue, the same security personnel that denied him entry moments earlier gave him a smart salute and ushered him to the high table. When food was served, guests shockingly saw him pouring it into the pockets of his flowing gown, messing the expensive dress up. Shocked, the organizers asked why he was doing that, and he responded that he was feeding the guest that was invited (meaning his cloths). He went ahead to narrate what happened when he arrived at the venue dressed less gorgeously and said that his dress, and not him, was the guest.
According to the World Poverty Clock, a staggering 40.1 per cent of Nigerians live in abject poverty, or below the poverty line, with the report adding that an individual in Nigeria is considered poor when he or she has less than N137,000 annually. This means a whopping 82 million Nigerians get subjected to all sorts of trauma and are even dehumanized every day just because they don’t have the means to dress well or drive in their own cars.
In Nigeria, poor people die because they don’t have a few hundreds of naira to buy urgently needed drugs, and talks of millions going on empty stomachs for a long stretch of time are daily occurrences. Jobs are pretty difficult to come by, as most job offers are shared by legislators, governors, judges, ministers, traditional rulers and those in high places. Being hopeless, and feeling so every minute of the day is the norm, rather than the exception, especially if you are not born with a silver spoon in your mouth. It accounts for the reason criminal elements, including terrorist Boko Haram, keep hiring our young ones, to kill and maim innocent citizens.
Surely, poverty is not an excuse for anyone to engage in crime, as our laws make no provision for such as an excuse. It means that anyone caught engaging in any crime will be severely dealt with by the law. But then, even the law is mostly only applied on the poor.
I know of an innocent young woman who has been sentenced to death because her parents refused to give the investigating police officers the money they demanded to turn a favorable report. I also know of another woman presently in Jos Prison who is being detained because her husband did not have the money to give the policemen that came to arrest her, falsely claiming she was a kidnapper. She was detached from her children, parents and relations and has been in that prison for almost three years now, with the case dragging at a snail’s speed. There are millions of such cases of innocent citizens dying in our various prisons because they did not have the money to bribe the police or the courts.
It is time elite members of the Nigerian society changed this mentality, even if for their own good, as injustice has a way of catching up with the wicked.