BY: Prof. Adesina Sodiya
The calls for a thorough reappraisal of the existing economic template of Nigeria, with a view to having sound fiscal public management during a period of global economic downturns cannot be faulted.
It is worrisome that after 60 years of oil boom, Nigeria still has over 80 million out of its estimated 200 million population tagged as poor and living below the United Nations poverty threshold.
As a way of out of the quagmire of over-bloated bureaucracy and excessive spending on recurrent expenditure, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has nodded in agreement that the Rationalization and Restructuring of Federal Government report popularly referred to as “Oronsaye Report”, should be implemented to cut government spending.
This portends that about 220 out Parastatals, Commissions, Agencies and Bodies of the Federal Government will either be merged or scrapped; such that a chunk of national resources from these MDAs is channeled into running a government that is lean and concise.
As cogent and timely this intervention is, there is need to reflect on certain parastatals, commissions and agencies before they are stripped of their legislative powers. One of such Bodies that the Federal Government must be careful with is the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) [CPN].
CPN was established by Act No 49 of 1993. The Act was passed into law on 10th of June and gazetted on the 9th of August that year.
To start with, barely a year ago, the Federal Government granted approval for the implementation of a ‘White paper on Scheme of Service for Computer Professional Cadre in the Public Service’ structured on SGL 08 – 17 for graduates”.
This is coming thirteen years after recommendations to that effect were made by the National Council on Establishments and a testament to Government’s understanding that computer professionals are now national assets because they are capable of developing solutions that will save us from this rainy day!
The re-designation is with a view to aligning the nomenclatures with current global practices especially as regards job contents and definitions.
Therefore, it is not out of place to suggest for a strengthening of CPN by the National Assembly to carry-out the peculiar responsibilities to regulate, control and supervise the computing profession and practice in Nigeria in line with Section 1 (2) of the Act. The NASS should urgently look into this if we are really serious about tapping into the Fourth Industrial Revolution; whether CPN is retained under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education or aligned to operate under NITDA.
Obviously, agencies of government are created to address specific issues at a time; this is the time we need CPN more! CPN is the custodian of Computer code of practice in Nigeria just as British Computer Society is to the United Kingdom.
Of course, computing professionals’ actions change the world, but must be subject to act responsibly. The practitioners should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good of the government. CPN deserves the opportunity to continue to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (“the Code”) of computer practitioners in Nigeria to express the conscience of the profession.
The Federal Government is therefore advised not to withdraw funding from the only Agency established to inspire and guide the ethical conduct of all computing professionals, including current and aspiring practitioners, instructors, students, influencers, and anyone who uses computing technology in an impactful way.
CPN’s Act should be repealed to reflect the dictates of present day computing world. The Executive and the Legislative arms of the Government should know that computing principle is supplemented by guidelines, which provide explanations to assist computing professionals in understanding and applying the principle.
Act 49 of 1993 (CPN), earlier referred to, makes it mandatory for all persons and organizations seeking to engage, or already engaged, in the sale and/or use of computing facilities, and in the provision of professional services in computing or related computing machinery in Nigeria, to be registered by the Council and licensed to carry out such activities. Oh, yes. If we do want our offices, homes and institutions to be filled with locally developed computer hardware and software, then, CPN should be given the deserved place in our society.
Any form of engagement in computing and professional practice without satisfying the above condition -that is, registration and possession of a current valid license, portends grave danger to our economy. We need a stronger CPN with legislative backing to stand out in the comity of computer professionalism.
One of the hallmarks of professionalism, especially in Information Technology (IT), is training and retraining, given the high obsolescence of Information Technology and the need to be updated on regular basis.
The ball is now in the government’s court to unleash a more empowered CPN as a demonstration of responsibility to keep Nigerians abreast of current developments in the IT/computer industry if we are to remain competent, relevant and competitive.
Professor Adesina Sodiya is the President, Nigeria Computer Society [NCS].