In the digital age we live in today, the time for deployment of artificial intelligence to provide for seamless and hassle-free services for clients cannot be better than now for our legal practitioners.
It is a little surprising, therefore, that foremost technocrat and director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, told young and upcoming lawyers the same thing earlier this week, advising them to embrace technology to deepen their knowledge of the legal profession and become resoundingly successcul in it.
Giving his remark at The Young Wigs Conference, with the theme “Techonomy: What Law School Doesn’t Teach You,” organised by the Legal Concierge, in Kano, Abdullahi said artificial intelligence is not here to steal people’s jobs, but rather an opportunity to tap in and make the legal and indeed the practice of every profession easier.
Speaking on the importance of digital services, Abdullahi said there is need to build a system with legal mind and perception, because artificial intelligence is taking over everything.
“We need to look at how this digital system displaces our own jobs and professions. As lawyers, most of your work is to analyse document, give advice and other things, which AI can do better than you. Now, are you going to compete with artificial intelligence, or are you going to augment on what you do?” he asked.
The NITDA boss added that this challenge can be seen as an opportunity that could be used as a source of inspiration to think on how artificial intelligence can be used to help clients, and make work better.
He said, “Today, in our generation, the big question is, to what extent should our lives be governed by powerful digital systems and on what terms? We have social media that try to control what we see and what we do. We also live in an increasingly technology era where it is very difficult to separate your online life with offline; what happens online is almost the same as what happens offline.
“This, increasingly quantifies society whereby all what you do is captured, stored and processed by this giant tech. They know everything about you; they can picture you more than you can picture yourself, because they are aware of every minute of your life, and who you spend time with.”
It is worth noting that this federal parastatal of serious significance to the survival and growth of the Nigerian economy has come a long way since its establishment 20 years ago. It has impacted directly and indirectly on over 2.5 million Nigerians through its interventions and training programmes.
The impact was occasioned by the increased awareness of the agency’s demand-specific interventions that include Community Access Venues; Knowledge Access Venues; Digital Capacity Building Centres; Digital Job Creation Centre; Digital Economy Centres; IT infrastructures for higher institutions; Wide Area Network for higher institutions; virtual library; IT innovation and incubation parks and other interventions the agency has undertaken across Nigeria.
From inception to date, the agency has deployed over 1,560 centres with at least two in each of the 774 local government areas of the country. With other critical areas of focus for the agency, like capacity-building such as training-the-trainer programme for lecturers in tertiary institutions, which has grown into a special programme for women, people living with disabilities, military and paramilitary, public officers, students, National Youth Service Corps, artisans, primary school pupils and now having various programmes delivered online through NITDA Academy, NITDA’s huge impact has continued to be felt all over the country and even beyond.
While a lot of credit for NITDA’s huge impact on Nigeria’s economy is given to Malam Kashifu Inuwa, the incumbent director-general of the agency, it must be stated that today’s success was laid by no less a personality than the immediate past helmsman and current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Ali Isa Pantami, under whose headship NITDA witnessed an unprecedented improvement in its activities, especially in the area of regulation and accountable governance. Professor Pantami instituted the 2017-2020 strategic road map, which was anchored on seven strategic pillars.
These achievements include huge ICT contribution to gross domestic product from less than 0.5% in 2001 to more than 14% in 2020, catalyzing job creation and igniting innovative activities in the tech ecosystem; likewise, we have achieved a lot in digital inclusion and literacy. As a result, we are witnessing the emergence of new economic sectors like Fintech, e-commerce, venture capital investment, business process outsourcing, data protection compliance organizations, IT equipment manufacturing and robust software industry.
And now, with the issuance of regulatory instruments, especially the IT project process, which came into force in December 2016, the agency has saved over N22.45billion for government, in addition to the value addition to IT project delivery. The agency has also created a new industry with the release of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
Artificial intelligence has always been used for making smarter business decisions. It is a technology that can coordinate data delivery, analyze trends, develop data consistency, provide forecasts, and quantify uncertainties to make the best decisions for legal practice or any other business or profession.
Artificial intelligence is also an easy way for legal practitioners in Nigeria to catch up with their peers in the developed world, thereby enabling better administration of justice in the country.