September 27, 2021

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

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Nigerians unaware of DTSs procurement laws, policies – Report

For public access, such information is expected to be available on the public procurement platform, the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO).

By Jessica Dogo
The Public Private Development Centre (PPDC) has released a report that said Nigerians are not aware of laws and policies that guide the procurement of Digital Technology Systems (DTSs) in the country.

The report, launched at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, also said that DTSs budget and procurement plans were not always available to the public, adding that many Nigerians did not know their rights in respect of DTSs.

Ms Nnenna Eze, the Head of Communications, PPDC, stated this during the presentation and review of the report on Tuesday in Abuja.

“For public access, such information is expected to be available on the public procurement platform, the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). Most of this information is, however, missing

“During the procurement process, the Chief Security Officers (CSOs) are expected to be present during the opening of bids, but that is not always the case as most times; CSOs are not invited to the bid opening processes.

“Citizens including those located in the urban areas are not aware of the laws and policies that guide the procurement and use of DTSs,” she said.

Eze said that the Federal Government had increased procurement of DTSs to unify all identification information into a central database.

She added that the growing demand for Nigerian citizens to register for their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and voter cards was driving the government’s continued technology investment in the National Identification Management Database (NIMS).

According to her, currently, NIMS is being integrated with every other identification database in the country, such as the voter register, the BVN, the Immigration Service, the driver’s licence, and the telecommunications companies.

“This indicates an effort by the government to unify all identification information into a central database.

“With the unification of all databases, digital and policy experts are pushing for a new law, the Data Protection Bill, which will create an identification management authority – the Office of the Independent Data Protection Commissioner responsible for the regulation of data collection.

“The proliferation of databases for citizens’ information increases the opportunity for illegal access to citizens’ data, and the law aims to address such concerns.”

She, however, called on the government to prioritise data privacy and protection by amending the existing laws relating to the use of DTSs to ensure procurement and use of DTSs did not infringe on the rights of citizens.

This she said was to ensure adequate protection of citizens’ privacy and personal data.

Earlier, the Senior Programme Officer of PPDC, Mr Kachi Chukwu, said the organisation’s three key areas of monitoring public procurement, access to information and open contracting were able to entrench transparency in Nigeria.

Chukwu said that the essence was for Nigerians to have access to public information in regard to public finance expenditure.

He added that PPDC opened up procurement processes and opened up public financial expenditure in Nigeria to ensure transparency.

“Basically, what we do at PPDC is that we make use of Freedom of Information Act to request for information with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and we put it out to the public.

“This is to ensure transparency and accountability in the public procurement process at every point in time.

“So, we have conducted a research looking at digital technology systems in Nigeria as well as digital rights and privacy in Nigeria.

“We are basically trying to understand how open the procurement process of digital technologies are in Nigeria as well as to what extent are digital rights and data rights are protected at every point in time,” Kachi said.

The Chief Operation Officer, PPDC, Mrs Gift Maxwell, stated that as the world entered into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4G) it had become increasingly important for government to transition into the digital process service delivery.

Maxwell, however, said that this would help bring in more investment in the digital technology systems of the country.

“In light of this there will be more investment in the digital technology systems.

“However, with the continuous investment and procurement in digital technology systems, it has become very necessary to assess how this technology drives the nation’s economy and how it affects our citizens’ rights.

“It is in line with this that this body aims to understand how government procurement of such digital systems such as artificial intelligence, artificial recognition and digital identity in Nigeria.

“The study has assessed the procurement method and processes used in laws that guide the digital technology procurement systems and the laws also that guide the digital technologies themselves,” she said.(NAN)

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