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Experts Seek Act to Back EO on Indigenous IT Services

chike onwuegbuchi
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, DG of NITDA
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, DG of NITDA

Software developers have asked the federal government to back the presidential executive order (EO) on patronage of indigenous information technology services by government agencies with an Act of Parliament to ensure compliance.

Prof. Yemi  Osinbajo, acting president,  had recently issued the executive order to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs), of the Federal Government to support local content in procurement of IT products and services.

Yele Okeremi, chief executive officer, Precise Financial Systems, an indigenous financial IT services company, said that the executive order is a good step but expressed reservations over its implementation.

“The challenge with executive order is that of enforcement and sustainability. Executive orders can be signed by a sitting president and overturn by the next president, I think what the government wants to do is to begin a process and for it to continue is another issue. Executive orders are for executive arm of government that does not extend to other arms of government. We are looking at having a legislative act that will guarantee survival of local content, government should seek a way to ensure how this order can be legislation,” he said.

He added that, executive orders carry sanction for any department or agency that faults it, but the individual cannot be arrested or prosecuted for not carrying out such orders.

“What makes a country rich and poor is level of productivity. Game of poverty and richness of a nation is not a game of natural resources; it is much more of a game of intellectual resources. The executive order on local content tends to address demand for indigenous IT services which will improve productivity and foreign exchange will drop. Without patronage there is no stimulus to produce, this is the time for us to develop indigenous grown technology,” he noted.

Amos Emmanuel, chief executive officer, Programos Software Limited, corroborated Okeremi on the need to go beyond executive order to an Act that is enforceable.

“For me executive order is like hypocrisy, former president Obasanjo had issued similar order in the past in relation to indigenous software and it was not followed by government agencies. Today, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) is challenging some government agencies on contracts awarded to foreign companies to implement software for them which has local capacity,” he said.

He however urged indigenous IT services innovators to embrace new thinking in their approach to innovative services or products.

According to him, ‘these innovative services of the new thinking are capable of crumbling or disrupting bureaucratic and regulatory barriers that have hither to prevented locally developed technology from rising’.
He cited the revolution digital banking has brought to the banking sector which has disrupted conservative regulation of the sector.

“The time has come for indigenous innovators to thrive in their capacity, thinking on how they can change the system through innovation instead of following the traditional system that has held them down. Lack of patronage will be a thing of the past with innovative services of the new thinking,” he added.