Presidency puts award of eNaira project to Caribbean firm by CBN under scrutiny

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  • Contract contravenes IT procurement guidelines

Nigeria’s eNaira project may have contravened provisions of IT Public Procurement guidelines and Executive Orders 003 and 005 in respect of Local Content, persons knowledgeable on the matter told IT Edge News yesterday in Abuja. According to them, the presidency was already looking into the matter worried it might impact negatively on the local IT ecosystem.

On 30 August 2021 the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the appointment of Bitt Inc as technical partner for the eNaira Project. Bitt Inc is a provider of Blockchain based payments platform based in Barbados (founded in 2013). The Caribbean firm has received a total investors’ funding of $8.5 million and has about three employees that has been increased since its deal with the CBN.

Award raises questions, puts IT regulator to task

But the award has raised concerns in the local IT industry over contravention of the existing federal government guidelines on IT procurement for all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); Executive Order No 003 of 2017 and Executive Order No 005 of 2017 – both orders make it obligatory for MDAs to first consider local IT companies in any award of IT contracts.

Executive Order No 003 mandates all MDAs to provide ‘Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government’ while Executive Order 005 specifically covers “Planning & Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology Declaration Scheme.”

“It is not debatable. Nigeria has Fintech companies with better market capitalisation, higher global recognition, stronger experience and more capable hands than Bitt. The question is why go foreign and why Caribbean, particularly? It just doesn’t add up. All that foreign engage,” said one expert and a member of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) in Lagos.

By law, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is charged with enforcing the IT procurement guidelines as well as the executive orders on Local Content.  It would appear the CBN sidestepped the NITDA in the award of the eNaira project, IT Edge News learnt.  But the IT regulator is already looking at the matter since the award was announced by the CBN.

NITDA generally frowns at attempts by MDAs to execute IT related contracts without seeking its clearance. The regulatory agency has in the last two years aggressively pursued a policy of full compliance to IT procurement guideline and executive orders in respect of IT projects by MDAs.

Depressive culture of silence

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the industry are equally worried over what one senior member of the NCS described as “a depressive culture of silence over this atrocious development.” But the Executive Secretary of the NCS, Iyiola Ayoola said the body will be making a formal statement on the matter this week.

The same position is expressed both by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN). The bodies say they will express their official position publicly soon and have already reached out separately to the authorities.

“We have already expressed our position to government and awaiting their response,” an ISPON member told IT Edge News. ISPON was established in 1999 to promote trade in local software and research in software technology. It has grown to be a key point of reference for the Nigerian software industry. The CPN is charged with the control and supervision of the computing profession in Nigeria.


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NITDA To Implement Compliance To Executive Order On Local Content In IT Procurement By MDAs

Executive Order 5 (For Planning & Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology Declaration Scheme)

Executive Orders

Executive Order No 003 of 2017 spelled out the required ‘Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government.’

Part of the Order states:

“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the FGN shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers in their procurement of goods and services.2.   Any document issued by any MDA of the FGN for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply or provision of goods and services (Solicitation Document), in accordance with (1) 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.

“All Solicitation Documents shall require bidders or potential manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and consultants to provide a verifiable statement on the local content of the goods or services to be provided.  

“Made-in-Nigeria products shall be given preference in the procurement of the following items and at least 40% of the procurement expenditure on these items in all MDAs of the FGN shall be locally manufactured goods or local service providers: Uniforms and Footwear; Food and Beverages;   Furniture & Fittings;   Stationery;e.   Motor Vehicles;  Pharmaceuticals; Construction Materials; and   Information and Communication Technology;

“Within 90 days of the date of this Order, the heads of all MDAs of the FGN shall: assess the monitoring, enforcement, implementation, and compliance with this Executive Order and local content stipulations in the Public Procurement Act or any other relevant Act within their agencies; propose policies to ensure that the Federal Government’s procurement of goods and services maximizes the use of goods manufactured in Nigeria and services provided by Nigerian citizens doing business as sole proprietors, firms, or companies held wholly by them or in the majority ….

“For the purpose of this Order, “local content “means the amount of Nigerian or locally produced human and material resources utilized in the manufacture of goods or rendering of services.”

The Executive Order 005 specifically covers “Planning & Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology Declaration Scheme.”

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