By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The Director of the National Information Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has said the incessant importation of IT goods into the country not only deplete the country’s foreign reserve as well as kills the growth and adoption of local content; but it also offers a leeway for public sector officials to inflate IT contracts and procurements.
Pantami said the best way to checkmate corruption in the country’s public sector is to look inward as most government agencies divert and siphon funds on IT procurement through a complex web of channels built round imported IT goods and services.
He said virtually all ministries, departments; agencies (MDAs) use IT procurement to siphon public funds under the guise of importing critical IT goods and services even when such goods and services were locally available.
“I realised this is the best way to fight corruption in Nigeria. Most of the MDAs insert IT projects in their budgets not because they need it, but because it is the easiest way to circumvent the questions on such items during budgetary defense at the Senate or House of Representatives”, he said.
According to Pantami, findings show that over N1.52 trillion worth of IT services and goods are imported annually which strategically undermine efforts at building local content. Nigeria is expected to spend approximately $143.8bn on imports by 2019, if the country doesn’t reduce the capital flight and starts consuming its locally made products.
“We want to solve the problems bordering on local content in the ICT sector in the country. We are not happy that Nigeria loses so much on importation of IT products and services. Approximately, $2.8 billion is lost annually from importation of ICT goods and services, including $1bn spent also annually on importation of software into the country. This is huge; if we don’t act quickly to reduce this, the survival of our local industry will be at risk,” said the NITDA’s boss.