From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami Friday, said there were loopholes in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which are being exploited by evil people to syphon monies.
Pantami, who spoke while inaugurating a technical committee of Ministers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Abuja, to review the three payment systems said the IPPIS was discovered to be riddled with high errors after critical review by the National Information Technology Development Agancy (NITDA).
“Prior to this meeting, as part of government processes of testing and certifying systems, IPPIS was recently subjected to critical review by NITDA and reported has been submitted to the relevant Ministeries, including the Minister of Finance, Education and Labour and a copy also sent to the presidency. There is no doubt, we discovered there are high errors. There are challenges with IPPIS there is no doubt about this. Inspire of all the challenges we have recorded, there are high, medium and low errors in these systems.” He stated.
The Minister disclosed that the systems, at the time of deployment did not follow the required NITDA standardization process, IT project clearance and certification but, assured that the committee on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari, will ensure that the payment systems are thoroughly accessed and areas of weakness identified for upgrade and improvement.
He said “Historically, as we all know, these three ICT systems for the first one (IPPIS), the process of its deployment commenced in 2006 while for GISFMIS, it deployed commenced in 2012. While TSA, the process commenced in 2015. At the time they were deployed, the provision of NITDA act 2006 under section A, of setting the standardization of ICT deployment in federal public institutions were not followed. Because of this, these three systems were not subjected to government certification and IT project clearance as encouraged by law and many other government policies.
“This committee, will serve as a president committee with the mandate of ensuring the review of the strengths of these systems and the challenges or weaknesses and advice Mr President on how to improve particularly, if there are leakages that are being exploited by evil people. The issue came about on the 19th July 2022, we had a meeting with Mr President along with other ministries where some technical issues and some challenges were discussed. I made a presentation and there and then, Mr President directed me to formalize it so that he will approve for further implementation.”
Speaking further, Pantami noted that despite their deficiencies, the ICT systems have recorded some feats and have so far been beneficial to the government in conserving some funds.
According to him, “However, inspite of that, many achievements have been recorded by their deployments. For example, based on the report from the relevant institutions of government, the IPPIS, saved the government over N120 billion naira. While the TSA saved over 10 trillion naira for government. These records show that at least government has recorded some gains from their deployment, particularly, with the recent allegations coming up that these systems are being exploited by evil people where they syphone money, and we read these allegations from time to time. It is because of this, after my submission to Mr President ok this allegations that they should not be ignored and we must identify where the challenges are if any and see how these systems can be enhanced technically so that we be able to consolidate the gains achievers so far and also improve on them to achieve many more successes.”
The Minister listed members of the committee as approved by Mr President to include: Minisiter of Communications (Chairman), Minister of Finance and Head of Civil Service of the Federation
Others are: Auditor General for the Federation, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms.
Also part of the committee are the Director General of NITDA, the Managing Director of Gallaxy Backbone Ltd and the Chairman of National Salaries and Wages Commission.
“While NITDA, looking at it’s mandate will serve as the secretariat. The approval and the directive given by Mr President clearly mentioned that all government institutions that managed these three systems must give unlimited access to the committee to ensure that they come up with a very strong recommendation to Mr President for approval. Any institution that fails to give access will be reported to Mr President immediately and in additional addition to that recommendation, a punishment is going to be recommended to Mr President for implementation.” The Minister warned.