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Inuwa, NITDA DG Urges ICPC to Digitalize Its Process for Improved Performance

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By Joseph Johnson

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has avowed that automation of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) will up the ante in tackling corruption to a large extent in the country.

Inuwa made this known during a Courtesy Visit on him by members of staff of the Commission, led by the Chairman, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN.

While confirming the Agency’s readiness to collaborate with ICPC in order to aid the digitisation of its services and monitoring corrupt practices in public institutions, Inuwa said automation is a journey and not a one off process.

“We have over two hundred and ninety-three processes to automate but we are selecting them one after the other to achieve the goal of the Agency”.

“We do this for other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) also, we have other initiatives in place to help them achieve digital transformation”, the DG noted.

According to the Director-General, “NITDA organises a lot of trainings and has a technical Working Group which started about three years ago, and saddled with the task of training representatives from different MDAs who are later asked  to nominate people that will become champions to promote digital transformation in their respective organisations”.

“We train them on e-Government and digital transformation in general, so that they can start the advocacy within their MDAs”.

“Moreso, we help some MDAs through the journey, like two years ago, Shippers Council came to us, we helped them with trainings, they documented their processes and have started automation. Also, we are currently working with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)”, the DG said.

Inuwa reiterated the fact that although technology is a tool, if the supposed users are not ready to utilise it and open to its endless possibilities, then, the expected results would never be attained.

“If your processes are not optimised and re-engineered, it will be difficult to automate your services”, the Director-General stressed.

The NITDA Boss who took time to share with his visitors, NITDA’s digitisation trajectory, with the aid of slide shows, explained the different approaches and workings of automation as adopted in the Agency, which he said is called “NITDA Digital Transformation Playbook”.

After narrating how tedious it was during the early days of his first appointment as NITDA DG, where he practically had to deal with treating tons of memos and mails manually and at the same time had to receive guests, Inuwa recounted how the process then, affected the productivity of the Agency, which necessitated the need to build a high velocity organisation that will engender high performance and turn over the desirable results.

“To achieve that, we had to reimagine ourselves, take a closer look at our mandate to draw up salients points, then, we came up with a new vision of where we want to be as well as core values that will be binding on all in the Agency”.

“We had to develop a 2P2CT Framework (i.e People, Process, Content, Culture amd Technology) and deliberately disrupt the way we do things, so that we can come up with a new way of doing them.

Inuwa, while maintaining that corruption happens when there is a human contact, added that technology can help eliminate that.

“I believe if we can digitise government’s services, it will really address the corruption challenges we have in the country”, Inuwa averred.

The Director-General therefore affirmed that the Agency is open to supporting the Commission in its digitisation quest as well as collaborating on any other critical areas.

“Digital Transformation is a journey, it is not a one-off initiative or project that you will execute and you are done, no, it is a journey which needs continuous improvement and we are willing to go on this journey with you,” Inuwa concluded.

Earlier, the ICPC Chairman, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN, who summarily briefed the DG and his team on the purpose of the visit said that the possibility of fighting corrupt practices and other related offences without utilizing technology is minute.

“When you look at the mandate of ICPC, the first responsibility is to ensure that it helps in preventing corruption, then investigate issues of corruption, prosecute, where there is a clear case of corruption, established through investigation.

“So, with a lot of changes observed over the years, particularly, since the creation of the Commission in 2000, we believe that aligning or collaborating with NITDA to digitise our processes will boost our services and speed up deliverables,” Aliyu noted.

The ICPC Chairman further stressed on the importance of technology to the overall performance of the Commission, as he expressed the hope that the digitisation process will make the Organisation more transparent, accountable, and effective, which will invariably spur the Nigerian people to have confidence in the Commission.


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Sunil Bharti Mittal, Airtel Africa Founder, Knighted by King Charles

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Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Airtel Africa has been awarded Honorary Knighthood, the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), by King Charles III, in recognition of his contribution towards promoting India-UK business relations.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Airtel Africa

The KBE is one of the highest honours conferred by the British Sovereign to civilians. It is awarded in honorary capacity to foreign nationals.

Mr Mittal’s contributions towards advancing India-UK business relations include his instrumental role in the listing of Airtel Africa on the London Stock Exchange in 2019, where it is a constituent of the FTSE100 Index. He also led the revival of OneWeb (now Eutelsat), leading a consortium with the UK Government and other strategic investors to offer satellite broadband services globally.

Mr Mittal, a member of the India-UK CEO Forum, has been awarded the Honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Newcastle University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Leeds.

He is a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Circle of Advisors at the University of Cambridge. Additionally, Sunil Bharti Mittal has served on the Governing Body of the London Business School (LBS) and as a Member of the India Advisory Group at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Airtel Africa,  said: “I am deeply humbled by this gracious recognition from His Majesty, King Charles. UK and India have historical relations, which are now entering a new era of increased cooperation and collaboration.

“I remain committed to working towards strengthening the economic and bilateral trade relationships between our two great nations.

“I am thankful to the Government of UK, whose support and keen attention to the needs of business has been critical in making the country an attractive investment destination.”

 


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Study Finds More than Half of Companies Use AI, IoT in their Business Processes in META

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A recent Kaspersky study has revealed that more than 50% of companies surveyed have implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) in their businesses’ infrastructures. Additionally, 33% are planning to adopt these interconnected technologies within two years.

In the Middle East, Turkiye and Africa (META) region, 55% of respondents have implemented AI and 34% are planning to do so, while IoT are used in 44% of organisations with 45% planning to use them. Business owners must ensure they have the right caliber of cybersecurity solutions to secure them, experts recommend.

Interconnected technologies are the growing network of devices, systems and applications connected to the Internet and each other.

They transform enterprises, enabling them to gather more data and automate processes. But they also bring new risks and challenges when securing business assets and safeguarding customers.

Kaspersky conducted a study ‘Connecting the future of business’, which aims to help companies stay ahead of the changes interconnected technologies bring, posing critical questions regarding the way cybersecurity must adapt to them.

For this purpose, the company surveyed 560 senior IT security leaders from North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Turkiye and Africa, Russia and Asia-Pacific.

In this survey, Kaspersky sought to examine what respondents think of the following interconnected technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI),
  • Internet of Things (IoT),
  • Augmented reality (AR), Virtual reality (VR) and digital twins,
  • 6G and converged cloud networks,
  • Web 3.0 which enables decentralised applications, blockchain smart contracts and user-managed data,
  • Data spaces that enable seamless data sharing in collaborative settings.

The research found that AI and IoT are already used by 54% and 51% of companies respectively (55% and 44% in the META region). One in three plans to adopt them within two years (in META 34% plan to use AI and 45% IoT). Data spaces are used by 32% of businesses, with nearly half (49%) intending to adopt them in the near future (the figures are 34% and 45% in META).

Other interconnected technologies (digital twins, AR, VR, web 3.0, 6G and converged cloud networks), are used by only one in five (20-21%) companies participating in the survey, but more than 70% are considering integrating them into their business processes soon. The figures are similar in the META region, with just 6G and converged cloud networks being a bit different – 18% of respondents already use them, 80% have them in plan.

Because AI and IoT have become so widespread, they are vulnerable to new vectors of cyberattacks. According to the research, 16-17% of organisations think AI and IoT are ‘very difficult’ or ‘extremely difficult’ to protect (18% and 16% in META), while only 8% of the AI users and 12% of the IoT owners believe their companies are fully protected (9% and 14% in META).

However, as we can see, the less widespread the implementation of technologies, the more difficult it is for companies to protect them and vice versa.

For instance, the least adopted AR/VR and converged cloud networks, are the most challenging technologies to protect in terms of cyber defense, with 39-40% of companies saying they are difficult to secure (37-38% in META).

“Interconnected technologies bring immense business opportunities but they also usher in a new era of vulnerability to serious cyberthreats. With an increasing amount of data being collected and transmitted, cybersecurity measures must be strengthened.

“Enterprises must protect critical assets, build customer confidence amid the expanding interconnected landscape, and ensure there are adequate resources allocated to cybersecurity so they can use the new solutions to combat the incoming challenges of interconnected tech.

“Businesses integrating AI and IoT into their infrastructure need to protect it with Container Security and Extended Detection and Response solutions, to detect cyberthreats at early stages and provide effective defense,” comments Ivan Vassunov, VP, Corporate products, Kaspersky.

Given the scale of change that interconnected technologies is likely to bring, organisations must develop a strategy to implement and protect them. Based on the research findings, Kaspersky recommends four effective ways to ensure organisations are prepared to protect interconnected technologies:

  1. Adopt secure-by-design principles. By integrating cybersecurity into each stage of the software development lifecycle, secure-by-design software and hardware become resilient against cyberattacks, contributing to the overall security of digital systems.

Cyber Immune solutions based on KasperskyOS, for instance, allow companies to minimise the threat surface and significantly decrease the ability of cybercriminals to perform a successful attack.

  1. Train and upskill your workforce. Building a cyber-aware culture requires a comprehensive strategy that empowers employees to gain knowledge and put it into practice. With Kaspersky Expert training, InfoSec professionals can advance their skills and defend their companies against attacks.
  2. Upgrade your cybersecurity solutions and use centralised and automated platforms such as Kaspersky Extended Detection and Response (XDR). As companies adopt interconnected technologies, they need cybersecurity solutions with more advanced features, enabling them to collect and correlate telemetry from multiple sources and provide effective threat detection and rapid automated response.

As many AI solutions are built on containers, it’s important to secure the infrastructure they are integrated in with cybersecurity products – such as Kaspersky Container Security – that allows companies to detect security issues at every stage of the app lifecycle, from development to operation.

  1. Meet regulations to avoid legal problems or reputational damage, by ensuring your cybersecurity practice meets changing standards and legal requirements.

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SERAP Drags Tinubu to Court over Alleged Missing $3.4Bn IMF Loan

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Tinubu over “the failure to probe the grim allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained by Nigeria from the International Monetary Fund to finance the budget and respond to COVID-19 is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.”

SERAP Drags Tinubu to Court over Alleged Missing $3.4Bn IMF Loan

President Bola Tinubu

 

The allegations are contained in the recently published 2020 Nigeria’s annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/269/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court “to direct and compel President Tinubu to probe the allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained by Nigeria from the IMF to finance the budget and respond to COVID-19 is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.”

SERAP is also seeking, “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to ensure the effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged mismanagement and diversion of the $3.4 billion IMF loan obtained by Nigeria to finance the budget and respond to the COVID- 19 pandemic.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to ensure the full recovery of the missing $3.4 billion IMF loan obtained by Nigeria to finance the budget and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Investigating these grave allegations, bringing suspected perpetrators to justice, and recovering any missing IMF loan would contribute to addressing the country’s economic crisis and debt burden.”

SERAP also argued that “The findings by the Auditor-General suggest a grave violation of the public trust, the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], national anticorruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”

According to SERAP, “Servicing IMF loan that is allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians—they can neither see nor benefit from the projects for which the loan was approved; yet, they are made to pay back both the loan and accrued interests.”

SERAP also stressed that “Unless the President is directed and compelled to get to the bottom of these damning revelations, suspected perpetrators would continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes and enjoy the fruits of their crimes.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Granting the reliefs sought would end the impunity of perpetrators and ensure justice for victims of corruption.”

“Granting the reliefs sought would facilitate the effective implementation of the recommendations by the Auditor-General in the 2020 annual report that the missing $3.4 billion IMF loan be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those responsible be ‘sanctioned and handed over to anticorruption agencies.’”

“The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loan documented by the Auditor-General undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.”

“According to the 2020 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation published last week, the US$3.4 billion emergency financial assistance obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the budget and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic is missing, diverted, or unaccounted for.”

“According to the Auditor-General, no information or document was provided to justify the movement and spending of the Fund.”

“The Auditor-General has recommended that the money should be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and for the evidence of remittance to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.”

“The Auditor-General has also recommended that anyone suspected to be involved should be ‘sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC and ICPC for investigation and prosecution, as provided for in paragraph 3112 of the Financial Regulations’.”

“According to SERAP’s information, Nigeria has signed an agreement to spread the repayment of the IMF loan/interests from 2023 to 2027. The first instalment, due in 2023, is worth $497.17 million. The second instalment, due in 2024, will be worth $1.76 billion. The third instalment, due in 2025, will be worth $865.27 million.”

“The final two instalments, due in 2026 and 2027, will each be worth $33.99 million. These instalments will only be interest payments.”

“Impunity for corruption in the management of loans obtained by Nigeria will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.”

“The consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.”

“The Nigerian government has a sacred duty to ensure that the country’s loans including those obtained from the IMF are transparently and accountably used solely for the purposes for which the loans are obtained, and for the effective development of public goods and services as well as the general public interests.”

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on the Nigerian government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the obligations on the government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ in the country.”

“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, the Nigerian government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’”

“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’”

“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on the Nigerian government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds including loans obtained by the country, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.”

“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligates the Nigerian government to effectively prevent and investigate allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including loans obtained by the country.”

“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires the Nigerian government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.”

“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”

Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.


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