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Nigeria Computer Society frowns at CBN’s selection of foreign firm for e-Naira project

. Says it is an abuse of Executive Order on local content

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Prof. Adesina Sodiya, e-naira
Prof. Adesina Sodiya, president of NCS

Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body for all Information Technology practitioners in Nigeria, has warned that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) decision to outsource the e-Naira project to a foreign is a total abuse of known Executive Order 003 of 2017.

CBN

The Headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Abuja

The Body established in 1978 is concerned with the promotion of national development using Information Technology.

In a strong worded press release signed by the Professor Adesina Sodiya, the president and Iyiola Ayoola, executive secretary, the Society said that as good as the e-Naira technical partner selection criteria are, it has become very imperative for NCS to advise CBN on the way forward on the issue.

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, the director of Corporate Communications, recently announced the formal engagement of the global Fintech company, Bitt Inc. as the Technical Partner for its digital currency, named eNaira which is due to be unveiled next month.

“The CBN’s selection of Bitt Inc, as e-Naira technical partners from among highly competitive bidders was hinged on the company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience”, the CBN claimed.

But this is not going down well with IT experts in Nigeria. For instance, NCS wandered why Bitt Inc; the Fintech company, was engaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the Technical Partner for its digital currency project; “company of not more than three staff and a lower market capitalization compared to any of Nigeria’s major Fintech companies”.

“It is a missed opportunity to further strengthen the value of Nigeria’s Fintech ecosystem, reduce the country’s undue exposure to FOREX imbalance and enhance the value of the naira struggling against major currencies”, Sodiya said.

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digital

“Non-compliance to IT policy and framework of Federal Government: By law, MDAs are under obligation to seek clearance from the NITDA before embarking on any IT project as enshrined in Section 6 of the NITDA Act, 2007, and by extension seeking clearance from Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), the only regulatory body saddled with that responsibility”.

“Presidential Executive Order 003 of 2017 clearly states that ‘’All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs ) of the FGN shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and services providers in their procurement of goods and services;  Any document issued by any MDA of the FGN for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply of provision of  goods and services (Solicitation Document), in accordance with the above , shall expressly indicate the preference to be granted to domestic manufacturers, contractors and service providers and the information required to establish the eligibility of a bid for such preference’’, he said.

Also, Presidential Executive Order 005 of 2018 corroborates Order 003 and goes deep down to enumerate punishment for violations of these executive orders.

“These Orders were outrightly violated and their contents flagrantly jettisoned overboard”, NCS reminds the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Sodiya said while CBN based its decision to select Bitt Inc, a company in the Caribbean as a technical partner, on  technical challenges, and the necessity of speed, the fact remains that the pockets of startups which went down after the CBN cryptocurrency technical ban, could have provided technical capabilities for this project.

To this end, NCS wants CBN to reverse its decision on the choice of technical partners for the e-Naira project and allow all the Fintech giants (in Nigeria) apply/bid for the job.

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“Nigeria has cutting edge financial technology development and implementation firms like: Precise Financial Systems (PFS); SystemSpecs Nigeria the firm behind Remita; Migo Credit-as-a-Service digital platform; Unicorn limited; Flutterwave; OPay; Fintrack limited; Inksledger financial system, to mention but few”.

He said that Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) is supposed to enable Nigeria to take advantage of digital technologies in order to become a leading player in the global digital economy.

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