Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Crisis looms in NITDA over board chairmanship


Crisis may be looming at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), over who succeeds Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, as the chairman of the board of the agency.

But as the news of the alleged crisis makes a round, some members of the board have denied it, saying there is no such vacuum to elucidate any crisis in first instance.

ITRealms Online recalls that Senator Kuye was the chairman of NITDA board of trustees, sequel to his latest appointment as the Minister of Commerce since April 6, 2010, following his ministerial nomination in March this year by then, acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

NITDA is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and constitutionally acts as the clearing house for Information Technology (IT) projects in the public sector; thus, entrusted with the implementation of the National IT policy, which seeks to make Nigeria an IT capable country.

Sources close to NITDA headquarters at Port-Harcourt Crescent, Area 11, Garki Abuja, informed that a high-level crisis may rock the agency if time is not taking with things being done properly.

This follows the inability of Senator Kuye, now the Minister of Commerce to relinquish position as the chairman of the board of trustee of NITDA. Our sources said this is affecting the agency in moving forward, despite the crawling nature of NITDA leadership style under the current Director-General, Prof. Cleopas Angaye; which they also alleged has attracted various condemnations from the industry, including key interest groups.

While opposition proponents called for the appointment of a new chairman for the board since Kuye has been sworn in since April 6 as Minister, some key members of the board insisted that all is well within the board, dispelling the fear of any crisis.

Some of the board members who spoke to ITRealms Online on the matter included the president, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. Chris Uwaje, his counterpart in the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Dr. Chris Uwadia, former Director, Information Technology services at the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote and former president, Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Dr. Gabriel Obi, all claimed unaware of the alleged crisis.

According to Uwaje, there is no crisis in NiTDA board, noting that the president has the prerogative to appoint the chairman of the board, which in this case is still Senator Martin-Kuye, who was recently appointed the Minister of Commerce.

Although, he pointed out that Senator Kuye has not resigned, “but he has to resign if he wishes.” He stressed that there are other ministers who are also chairmen and board members of some other parastatals and cannot understand why NITDA is becoming a subject at this time.

He explained that the absence of Kuye as board chairman has not generated any kind of crisis, emphasizing that the board members could appoint somebody among them to represent NITDA chairman at functions, which could be rotated, adding that the secretary of the board, which is NITDA D-G is there to represent when it matters, based on a section of NITDA Act of 2007.

Re-echoing Uwaje’s position, Dr. Obi, maintained that it is the president that appoints the chairman of NITDA board.

“The board can be represented by the DG, who doubles as the Secretary of the board,” he said, insisting that he is not aware of any such crisis.

“I am not aware of anything like that and we have not expressed anything like that in the board,” he declared, just like Mrs. Odusote corroborated.

For the president of NCS, Prof. Charles Uwadia there is no crisis at all, quoting NITDA Act 2007 as stipulating an acting chairman for each board meeting to be elected at each meeting.

“The board may also appoint a member to represent it at any forum. President Goodluck Jonathan is the one who decides when to appoint a new chairman to replace Senator Jubril Martins Kuye, who is now a minister,” he told ITRealms Online.

Efforts to reach the DG of NITDA, Prof. Angaye was not successful as he neither responded to voice calls or Short Messaging Service (SMS) inquiries as at the time of going to press on the subject matter.

Though Part-II of NITDA Act of 2007 on the ‘Composition of the Governing Board, Powers and Functions’ section 4, subsection 1 (e), stated that notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of the Act, a member of the Board shall cease to hold office if “He becomes incapable of carrying out the functions of his office.”

Which in this case, according to another school of thoughts is applicable to the position of NITDA’s board chairman, simply because he cannot function effectively in two separate offices at the same time; both as the chairman of the board and Minister of the Federal Ministry of Commerce, which is a full time job.

Equally proponents of appointing new chairman for NITDA noted that apart from Senator Kuye receiving emoluments, allowances and benefits from the Federal Government, from time to time and directly in two places; that is, from NITDA in the Ministry of Science and Technology as well as from the Ministry of Commerce as the substantive Minister, pointing out that his presence and energy is now channeled towards the higher office of a Minister than that of NITDA board chairman.

They, therefore called on President Goodluck Jonathan to replace Kuye in NITDA’s board, so as to move the agency forward even as they invited Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to look into this and other ministers who may be having two government jobs, while many other qualified Nigerians lack job opportunities.

Noteworthy is that NITDA has the mandate to operate and implement the National IT policy and to give effect to provisions of the National information Technology Development Agency Act of 2007; ensure that the entire citizenry is empowered with information technologies through the development of a critical mass of IT proficient and globally competitive manpower.

Other part of the mandate compels NITDA to enter into strategic alliance with the private sector as well as international organizations for the actualization of the IT vision; develop and regulate the Information Technology Sector in Nigeria and to ensure that Information Technology resources are readily available to promote efficient national development.

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