Dr Vincent Olatunji, acting Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says the IT Policy implementing agency of government has trained no fewer than 55 physically challenged and 50 unemployed youths over the last six months.
According to him, beneficiaries of the Business Process outsourcing (BPO) training have been equipped with basic working tool since he assumed office as the acting DG of NITDA in January, this year.
“We have trained 55 physically challenged and 50 unemployed youths in Business Process outsourcing and provided them with working tools”, Olatunji said when members of ICT Committee of the House of Representative visited the agency for its oversight function.
According to him, one of the beneficiaries of the 2014 physically challenged training gave a testimony that she is now an employer of labour in her business centre ”because in every entrepreneur you create in ICT you are also creating three additional jobs.”
Olatunji says that NITDA has also trained over 200 Youth Corp members on IT essentials and trained 100 youths on Cisco while another training of 100 unemployed youths is underway in Lagos.
On his vision for the Agency, Olatunji says that NITDA would develop internal readiness for effective and efficient IT governance, implement policies that crystallise IT as the national enabler, improve the use of IT in government service delivery and drive IT penetration and diffusion in Nigeria.
According to Olatunji, on assumption of duty in acting capacity, he has not only ensured continuity of the programmes and projects of his predecessors but also trying to surpass what they had achieved.
“I have worked with five different CEO in NITDA and I have understudied all of them to see the areas we can improve upon in their visions for the agency. Some of the things I have introduced are the improvement on due process and discipline amongst our staff”, the NITDA acting DG says.
Olatuni commended the committee members for giving him the required assistance needed to function well in the short time that he has been in the acting capacity adding that he has had “a wonderful working relationship with the committee not only on oversight functions but also in consulting for advice”.
Highlighting some other vision he has for the agency on his watch, Olatunji says that ”we want to reinforce an effective IT regulatory framework, promote home-grown IT Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and Nigeria global brand to enhance job and wealth creation, develop a globally competitive service based IT industry and promote a secured IT ecosystem.
He however pointed out that issues like funding, over reliance on oil (which makes diversification difficult), unwillingness to change, cost of access to Internet and political will have been the greatest challenge confronting the operations of the agency.
He assured the committee members of his readiness to always work with them on ICT development because it is “no longer feasible to have inclusive development without a necessary driver of the economy” while also assuring them “that NITDA is now strategically and uniquely positioned in this dispensation to increase its inclusive development programmes for positive socio-economic development.”
Muhammed Onawo, Chairman of the committee says that NITDA should see the National Assembly as a partner in its bid to transform the country to a knowledge-driven economy.
He said the Committee appreciated the relationship that exists between the House and NITDA but says that “more has to be done in forming a strong partnership that can take our ICT to the next level.”
Commending the management of NITDA for its achievement so far, the committee urged the IT agency to outline the challenges that are mitigating the realisation of full potentials of ICT and bring them to the knowledge of the lawmakers.
“We can appropriate the necessary funds you need to function effectively. And if there is need for legislation on any of your activities do not hesitate to carry us along”, he says while advising NITDA to come up with an ICT package that will be of benefit to Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) across Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, the Computer Based Examination being conducted by various examination bodies coupled with insurgency has further widened the opportunity gap of securing admission to tertiary institutions among the students of educationally-disadvantage states of the North-East.
On ICT local content, the committee urged NITDA to approach the National Assembly if there is need for laws that would protect the local players in the industry.
“If the country needs legislations that will give our ICT local content producers advantage, come up with one so that we can help the government in its drive to create jobs”, Onawo says.