The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, has stated that with the increased distrust in governance in Nigeria with the manipulation of government processes by corrupt persons, it has become “highly imperative that Blockchain policy and technology be adopted and implemented by institutions in the country to enhance effective, secure and transparent government processes in other to earn the trust of Nigerians.
Inuwa made this known at a seminar organised for Course 32 by the National Defence College (NDC.) The Participants were drawn from officers in the rank of Colonel and their equivalents from the Nigerian Armed Forces, senior officers from the Nigerian Police Force, and public servants from strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Nigeria.
The title of the lecture delivered by the Director General was “Blockchain Technology for Improved Transparency in Governance: Blockchain-Based Public Procurement in Perspective.”
While listing bribery, bid rigging, extortion, coercion and fraudulent bid submissions as major challenges to the traditional procurement process, the DG noted that the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through the Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy is committed to leveraging the use of Blockchain technology in addressing these challenges.
He stated that Blockchain technology enables a secure, transparent and tamper-proof record, adding that, “It is secure because digital files are cryptographically signed by an issuer and registered on the Blockchain; it is transparent because it is broadcast openly and it is tamper-proof because it is blocked in a distributed manner.”
Highlighting the steps in a Blockchain transaction process, he said that transactions are first initiated on the Blockchain network and then verified using cryptographic technology which has both public and private keys, Inuwa stated that transaction would be added to a block which is a batch of transactions.
He informed the participants that when the block attains a particular specification or size, it is thereafter added to a chain of other blocks through a process called a “consensus,” and distributed to all nodes within the network to achieve a tamper-proof record.
While noting the economic value of Blockchain and its enormous impacts on national development, the NITDA’s boss disclosed that “according to PricewaterCoopers (PwC), Blockchain will add $1.76 trillion to the global economy by 2030 and every country today is trying to position itself on how to benefit from this.”
He added that Nigeria needs to embrace the implementation of Blockchain technology as it can be applied in administrative tracking and tracing; digital identity; smart contracts; supply chains, healthcare systems, electronic voting processes, and many more.
“So, looking at these applications, you can easily connect this to public procurement because the essence of public procurement is to ensure that government acquires good services and work in a transparent, efficient and cost-effective manner”, he averred.
Inuwa further asserted that Blockchain technology will play critical roles and improve transparency and openness in the planning, bidding, evaluation, implementation and monitoring stages of a procurement process.
Recognising the importance of this technology, he disclosed that the Federal Executive Council approved the National Blockchain Policy on the 5th of May 2023 and it was launched on the 15th of the same month.
The Director General underscored the government’s efforts at implementing the thematic areas of the policy document which are Talent Development, Innovation and Adoption through various collaborations with relevant institutions and initiatives developed to spur the ecosystem.
He said, “We partnered with Dominion to train Nigerians and we have trained 32,000 Nigerians on Blockchain and how to apply the technology in different areas.
He disclosed that the Agency has partnered with the National Youth Service Corps on the issuance of discharge certificates to corps members adding that the technology will put an end to certificate forgery and the implementation would be extended to other institutions.
He stated also that the Agency has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the ecosystem in conducting an innovation challenge on the use of Blockchain to accelerate the adoption of the e-Naira.
“These are the things the government is doing to accelerate the use of Blockchain and we are also open to working with you and collaborating with your research fellows to see how we can work together in developing your processes,” he concluded.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commandant of the NDC, Rear Admiral Olumuyiwa Olotu, appreciated the NITDA boss for gracing the occasion and stated that the participants were gathered to gain insight into how national unity can be fostered to enhance their respective missions, security, and development through the application of science and technology.
While noting that the government has been investing massively in science and technology as well as innovation programmes to enhance the development and security of the nation, the Commandant revealed that the government in conjunction with Oracle has been developing technology to reform the civil service processes and data management.
“With this initiative, the government aims to promote the ease of real business, digital innovation, effective identity management, efficient payroll administration, and qualitative citizen service delivery in Nigeria,” he added.