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NITEC, Digitization & ‘Servants of The People’

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Shortly after he assumed office as the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adeabyo Shittu, shared the deep sense of urgency the Federal Government feels for implementation e-Government Master Plan by 2020, which is a key blueprint for improving the delivery of public sector services using technology.

The e-Government Master Plan developed by the Federal Ministry of Communications is such a compendium of an essential blueprint of modalities and protocols for the adoption of e-Government best practices, across the Federal Civil Service.

Under the plan, all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are embracing the e-Government Plan, the Minister said.

“I must, most earnestly, share with you the deep sense of urgency that I, and the entire Ministry of Communications, feel as per the importance of the e-Government Master Plan 2020”, Shittu told attendees at the Stakeholders Engagement Workshop on e-Government Master Plan 2020.

Yes, such transformation drive will engender an information-rich government while invoking new contractor agreement between the Government and the citizens on clear principles for further digitization of government, in particular for Services provided to citizens and businesses.

The immediate gains we expect are such as compulsory adoption of e-invoicing for government departments, e-procurement, and social rights and tariffs will be granted automatically. At that point social justice would have returned and government would have curried public flavor too. We are all witnesses how TSA is delivering the country from the shackles of graft, corruption and perpetual embezzlements in the past

Therefore and with the topic as “what the digitalization of government and public sectors means for the eco-system”, NITEC 2016 shares the Minister’s position because the government and its agencies have come under intense scrutiny and are realizing that technology is helping citizens hold them more accountable.

What will be the new economy that will be created as a result of digitalizing only 30% of Nigeria’s public sector?

According to KPMG documentation on the subject, it was pointed out that the digital transformation of government is not only a great challenge but also a great opportunity for taking a great leap forward. The expectation in this era signifies “The government has to provide the same or even better services to citizens and businesses, but with less resources. As a result, the focus has been put on administrative simplification, more efficient procedures, and combating fraud. The ‘Only Once’ principle offers the government the possibility of achieving those objectives’ (KPMG).

The document also described the ‘Servant of the People’ principle as the power of integrity in politics and government.

In Nigeria, we have heard of public office holders referring themselves to ‘Chief Servant’ or what have you, but this is basically who holds’ position, paid or unpaid, in the public sector’. Technology of this nature aids office holders to be more responsive, proactive and interactive; serving the purpose of their ‘calling’, and they must handle this power with integrity.

But how can they do this? Muel Kaptein, Partner at KPMG Advisory NV and professor in business ethics and integrity management at the RSM Erasmus University in Rotterdam, is the author of “The Servant of the People: the power of integrity in politics and government” in which he offers insight and practical assistance for officials in the public sector. The central message is that there is great power in integrity for servants of the people which is primarily guaranteed by transparent nature of technology.

NITEC is such a platform that will aptly provide the needed e-governance latitude with key deliverables of improving public sector delivery of the dividends of good governance to the people of Nigeria through the using of new information and communication technologies (ICTs).

For instance, stakeholders ought to be on same page on how to tackle the complicities in .ng domain registration by States and local government. Or how can one describe the low acceptance of the Nigeria’s internet domain name, .ng largely due to nonchalant of the authorities on policy formation. With the population of Nigeria within the range of 170m, with less than 100,000 domains registration in NiRA’s database.

It was found that digital transformations require changes, to both processes and IT systems that are more challenging to implement in the public sector than in the private sector. Thus, a joint study by McKinsey and Oxford University found that public-sector IT projects requiring business change were six times more likely to experience cost overruns and 20 percent more likely to run over schedule than such projects in the private sector.

Regardless of where a public-sector organization is in its digitization journey, there are impeccable reasons to start, scale, or evaluate its programs. Tentatively, giving in e-governance rings a win for government-wide and agency-deep commitment to specific digital targets; establish government-wide coordination of IT investments; leading to redesign processes with the end user in mind; hire and nurture the right talent; use big data and analytics to improve decision making, and protect critical infrastructure and confidential data.

These will eliminate what Chris Uwaje, the doyen of Software in Nigeria calls, “Match-Box Vision”, following incoherent manner of policy formulation and implementation.

The relevance of discussions slated for NITEC 2016 cannot be overemphasized, especially the nation’s economy is in tatters due to over dependent on oil. Oil can drive, but innovations driven by technology evolve daily.

Holding at Civic Centre, Lagos from 23rd-24th of June, NITEC 2016 remains a formidable to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors and the international technology community in re-engineering the African technological ecosystem for greater impact on the continent’s GDP.

Likewise, through plenary sessions and exhibitions the worth of our technology system will be showcased to thousands of attendees; exhibition booth (2 days); placement of brand logo on event brochure and website; complimentary wifi, place web banners and share branded gifts at booths.

The renowned speakers will spark deepened conversation and help through up new innovations that will help Nigeria and indeed, Africa, on digitization. Be there!


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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TI-Nigeria Boss Alleges Nigerian Banks Offer Opportunities for Terrorism Tinancing

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Awual Rafsanjani, executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and head,  Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria), has accused banks of offering opportunities for terrorism financing in the country.

TI-Nigeria Boss Alleges Nigerian Banks Offer Opportunities for Terrorism Tinancing

Rafsanjani, stated this at the multi-stakeholder meeting on terrorism financing and violent extremism in the North-East, organised by CISLAC and TI-Nigeria, financed by GIABA-ECOWAS.

According to Rafsanjani, “The financial sector has been exploited for terrorism financing. The use of the financial sector indicates the increasing capabilities of some terrorist groups. These include the Bureau de Change operators, Point of Sale (POS) devices, wire transfers, and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, among other enabling platforms expanding the scope and depth of terrorism financing.

“It is worrisome that illegal money exchangers including Bureau De Change have been featured in several Terrorism Financing investigations. The 2022 National Inherent Risk Assessment of Terrorism Financing report reveals that between 2019 and 2022, about 19 companies were linked to illegal money exchangers who have used their companies to commingle funds considered to be linked to Terrorism Financing.”

In his goodwill message, Ola Olukoyede, chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  said that the commission is settling for the use of technology to combat illicit flow of monies into the hands of terrorists.

Olukoyede expressed worry over the dimension terrorism financing has taken, disclosing that the EFCC has discovered platforms other than Binance, which are being used for terrorism financing, saying over a thousand of such accounts were closed.

He said: “The challenge before us is to seek solutions to end this decade-long nightmare and restore order to the troubled region. The quest for a solution is not entirely new. Several conferences and workshops have been convoked, yet the situation remains dire.

“For us in the EFCC, like most Nigerians, the concern is on how this crisis continues to defy solutions and fester? How is it that the terrorist groups in the region are able to sustain their operations, acquire more sophisticated weaponry and engage in daring combat with the Nigerian military?

“It would seem that an economy of criminality has developed around terrorism and violent extremism in the region, where actors who are profiting from the chaos do not cherish the return of civil order. How for instance do we explain the activities of supposed non-profit organisations who profess to want to provide succor to the distressed but end up exploiting their misery for financial gains?

“How do we explain the action of unscrupulous actors who hide under the cover of humanitarian activities to fund terrorist groups? These are issues that we must continue to interrogate.

“The EFCC has had cause to prosecute so-called promoters of non-profit organisation who exploited the desperate conditions in the North-East to profiteer. I am sure many of you are aware of a lady that is called Mama Boko Haram, who at the peak of the insurgency positioned herself as a credible intermediary for the insurgents, but is now in jail for exploiting the distressed citizens of the North-East for personal gain.

“Part of the focus of the EFCC in the quest to tackle terrorism and violent extremism in that region is to follow the funds trail of critical actors in the region and cutting off the supply line of illicit funds to known criminal groups. This responsibility has seen the Commission pay more attention to the movement of funds by NPOs in the region, who are now required to make a declaration to the EFCC.

“Some of our discoveries recently into investigating some of these platforms was mind bugging, and we thought Binance was a major one, yes a major one and we are prosecuting them but much more, other platforms we have discovered, of course you are aware that EFCC has to freeze over a thousand account, and it will shock you what some of those accounts are used for, and some of them are used to fund terrorism activities.

“You can imagine the dimension the whole problem is taking and so, it is important for us to adopt the use of technology, and that is what we are going to do to see how we can adopt technology to be able to track every Naira,” he said.

Also, in a goodwill speech, Dr Musa Aliyu, SAN, chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, (ICPC), said, “ICPC is fully committed to contributing its expertise and resources to this fight. We are prepared to intensify our efforts in financial oversight, enhance our investigative and prosecutorial capacities, and work closely with all stakeholders to disrupt the financial networks that fuel terrorism.”

 

 


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Afreximbank Deepens Ties On $350m Project Support Facility

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African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has concluded arrangements for a facility of $250 million with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and $100 million with the Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in support of trade and projects in Africa.

The arrangement took place on the sidelines of the recently concluded 2024 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Annual Meetings and Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

The lines of financing expected from ICD would strengthen the bank’s capacity and reinforce its intervention in the private sector, particularly for enterprises with substantial development impact in ICD and Afreximbank’s member states.

The facility from ITFC, on the other hand, will provide compliant syndicated trade financing line, thereby complementing the bank’s trade finance offerings to its clients.

As partners of the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Programme, Afreximbank, ITFC and ICD are committed to promoting south-to-south trade among African and Arab countries for a common goal of advancing socio-economic prosperity and building sustainable trade and development across the regions.

The collective support from ITFC and ICD will also allow the bank to deliver on its continental mandate of fostering industrialisation, developing exports and full implementation of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Prof. Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, said: “I take this opportunity to thank Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol and the entire team at ITFC and ICD for the continued partnership with Afreximbank.

 


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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail

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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, has dismissed the bail application of an Executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan. Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if bail is granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering. When the charges were read out, the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The Prosecution Counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant was a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport which he claimed was stolen, and this was a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting him bail, especially since he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the presiding judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.


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