By Mansour Aliyu Hassan

In its commitment to create an enabling environment for Vendors & Consumers to ensure that ‘Extant Rules’ are applied on all government and Information Technology contracts, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has organised a one-day Consumer Protection Forum, with a view to acquainting participants the rudiments of awarding IT Contracts in their respective organisations.

The event which drawn participants from various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was aimed at developing Digital Technology in Nigeria in line with the NITDA’s core values of professionalism, innovation and people first.

Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, while declaring the session open, said one of its seven pillars of the Agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) which is Developmental Regulation, is to ensure efficient and effective delivery of IT products and services.

The DG who was represented by Acting Director, Standards Guidelines and Framework, Mr Olawumi Oladejo, emphasised that there is need for mutual understanding between stakeholders and the Agency in developing standards & capacity Building.

He added that, IT sector played a Pivotal role in getting the country’s economy out of recession, and recorded the highest growth rate in Q1 of 2020 as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS.)

He maintained that, with the positive growth of IT in Nigeria, being the only double digit growth rate sector that exceeded the aggregate of all the seven fastest growing sectors, which made it to lead in the year 2020 and in Q1 of 2021, is what prompted the need to protect Consumers’ interest.

Inuwa said it is pertinent to note that, the Consumer Protection Forum is a platform through which NITDA seeks to bring Vendors and Consumers in the IT Industry together to address challenges in service delivery, adding that the Forum is an avenue to create awareness of Consumer rights on IT products and services for efficient and effective service delivery.

“Issues related to general IT products between Consumers and Service providers where to be looked in holistically”, the DG reiterated.

He also announced that the Forum with NITDA’S support, is adopting a new approach in resolving specific issues that affects the sector.

“To this end, issues bordering on our past Consumer Protection Forum and subsequent complaints within the industry, NITDA has developed guideline for the introduction of Service Level Agreement (SLA) to aid government Information Technology Contracts”, he said.

The DG assured the participants that NITDA will continue to protect the Consumers and users of IT against substandard products and services in Nigeria.

While presenting his paper titled ‘Ensuring Sustainability in IT Projects Through Service Level Agreement (SLA)’ Barrister Babatunde Bamigboye focused on areas of ensuring sustainability in IT projects through SLA, challenges, general formalities of contracts, specific formalities of SLAs in IT amongst many others.

Bamigboye and other speakers affirmed that, the wide scale failure of IT projects executed within MDA necessitated the development of the framework to guide the MDAs in defining the scope, liability, limitation and nature of IT projects for Federal Government.