Over the last few years, I have made a case that Nigeria should create an office of the National Chief Information Officer (NCIO). From software licensing to harmonization of technology policies, I believe that it would save Nigeria money. Imagine if all software purchases by the Federal Government for Nigeria are acquired by one office and then shared by the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies).
We would save money, fixing the problem which exists today where every unit of government acquires its own software. It is very painful reading Nigerian tenders. You see waste because no one is harmonizing simple acquisition of technology assets.
Here, I am using software licensing as an example; the benefits extend beyond that. I had suggested for anyone who holds the title of the DG of NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) to be upgraded to NCIO since NIMC has been focused on consolidating the disparate datasets across the nation.
What is happening in telcos is happening in Immigration, Drivers License Office and clusters of entities across Nigeria where they continue to capture biometrics. I do think that Nigeria may need to redesign the Acts that govern NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) and NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) to deal with many pressing issues on technology and data management. If we collapse them as one, we can have an Office of Chief Information Officer, for Federal Republic of Nigeria; call it National Chief Information Officer (NCIO). The present Director-General of NIMC can assume that office as NIMC has more roles in the consolidation of the disparate databases in Nigeria, and certainly more strategic than NITDA.
Adapting from a similar role in U.S., the CIO will be the administrator of the electronic government evolution in Nigeria. The position will be appointed by the President and will oversee national technology spending, federal IT policy, and strategic planning of all national IT investments. The NCIO will be charged with establishing a government-wide enterprise architecture that ensures system interoperability, information sharing, as well as maintain effective information security and privacy controls across the Federal Government.
But it seems this campaign is not just about me. Dr. Yele Okeremi, the president of Institute of Software Practitioner of Nigeria (ISPON), is making the same case. I think we need to do it by not necessarily creating another bureaucracy but my elevating and restructuring an already existing bureaucracy.
You have once canvassed for the establishment of the office of Federal Public Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the Presidency. What would be the role of such an officer at that level since we have the Minister of Communications?
My position on the office of a CIO General of the Federation remains unshaken.
The office actually is different from the office of the Minister of Communications Technology.
Firstly, we need to understand that the job of a minister is to ensure that the programme that has been set out by the government of the day is achieved by working with the bureaucrats; while the CIO General should be responsible for the technology strategy of the country.
The CIO General should be responsible for harmonization of all government technology initiatives to ensure cohesion and reduce duplication and conflicts.
The CIO-General will be the custodian of all technology deployed by the federal government and part of his responsibilities will include issues like cyber security, and, indeed cyber sovereignty of the country. This should be a career and not a political position.
Yes, the NCIO will help to harmonize projects, removing duplication as I have noted in the software licensing. He/she will be the person that will see the execution of all government technology projects to closure. The NCIO will be the custodian making sure that all government projects are aligned and well integrated to the national vision.
Mr. President, make it happen – we need a National Chief Information Officer in Nigeria.