By Ogaga Ariemu
The National Information Technology Agency(NITDA) has debunked in its entirety malicious publication against NITDA alleging that the agency received one billion Naira Project Fund from Nigerian Communications Commission.
This statement was contained in the press release signed by the agency’s Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs Hadiza Umar on Friday 27th March 2020.
The statement reads:
“The attention of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is drawn to a false and malicious article published by Sahara Reporters today, Friday 27th March 2020, attacking the person of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. It went further to falsely allege, among other libelous details, that the Honourable Minister has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to release the sum of one billion naira (N1bn) to NITDA for a non-existent digital learning scheme. It is unfortunate that this medium will publish manufactured and malicious facts to malign the personality of the Honourable Minister, the Director General of NITDA and the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC.
“For avoidance of doubt, NITDA is not promoting and has never promoted any program with the title “Digital Learning Scheme” and has therefore never received any sum from the NCC for this phantom project or any other project. We also wish to state publicly and unequivocally, that NITDA, as all other Federal Public Institutions, has a strict budgeting and accounting process that is reviewed by the oversight committees of the National Assembly.
“NITDA operates the Treasury Single Account (TSA), primarily designed to enthrone centralised, transparent and accountable revenue management. All NITDA’s expenditures go through the rigorous auditing process as required by law under the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
“Therefore, if any anomaly such as alleged in this dubious piece published by Sahara Reporters is flagged by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, NITDA and NCC would have been indicted by the Auditor General.
“The author and publishers of this piece are well known to court controversy and tarnish the image of public officers and citizens who are resolute in executing an agenda without kowtowing to powerful vested interest groups who resort to mudslinging where their asks or demands are not met. This is the case of corruption fighting back as a result of the Honourable Minister’s efforts at fighting all elements of corrupt practices within and outside the Ministry and Parastatals under his supervision.
“The public is invited to utilize the Freedom of Information Framework to seek to know the truth on any transaction or records of NITDA that can be made public by the operation of the Freedom of Information Act. The authorand publishers are therefore given seven (7) days to withdraw this libelous and malicious publication as well as publicly apologize. Failing to do so, the Agency will not hesitate to explore all legal options to bring them before the law and to seek redress for this libelous and malicious publication.
“The Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy has continued to lead the sector remarkably with doggedness and foresight to achieve the mandate of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. His leadership and programs have already started yielding result. More importantly, ICT is now a focal sector for economic diversification as well as a platform to catalyze other sectors such as health, agriculture, security, education and financial services. The Honourable Minster has ensured greater harmony, coordination and participation to all Parastatals under the Ministry’s supervision.We are pleased that Mr President, in his speech at the event, recognized these leadership qualities and commended the Honourable Minister ‘…for the high level of synergy that has been created amongst the Parastatals under his supervision…’’. However, posterity will be the best judge for the Honourable Minister’s legacies and leadership.
“We use the opportunity to appreciate our sector stakeholders for reaching out to us with outpouring of support and encouragement at this time. We also thank the public for being critical enough to assess falsehood and lies emanating from those who wish to keep Nigeria in perpetual backwardness. We will strive to do our best and execute our mandate for building the skills of Nigerians to thrive in the Digital Economy and to empower our young people to be dynamic, innovative and entrepreneurial.
“The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is a Federal Government Agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. NITDA was established in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy as well as coordinate general IT development and regulation in the country. Specifically, Section 6(a & c) of the Act mandates NITDA to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria; develop guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in government, commerce, education, the private and public sectors, labour, and other fields, where the use of electronic communication may improve the exchange of data and information”. She concluded.