NCS Faults CBN’s Choice of Bitt as Technical Partner for eNaira

Emma Okonji

Citing abuse of Executive Order 003 and 005, as well as capital flight that could further plunge Nigeria into deep financial crisis, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body of all Information Technology (IT) practitioners in Nigeria, has faulted the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to choose Bitt Inc. as the technical partner for Nigeria’s digital currency, called eNaira project.

According to NCS, the decision also negates IT policy compliance and framework of the federal government, and should be reversed immediately, to enable CBN look inward among competent Nigerian operators, who can conveniently handle and successfully deliver the project.

Central Bank of Nigeria, through its Director of Corporate Communications Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, recently announced the formal engagement of a global Fintech company, Bitt Inc. as the technical partner for its digital currency, named eNaira project, which is due to be unveiled later in the year.
The CBN’s selection of Bitt Inc, from among highly competitive bidders was hinged on the company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.

However, despite the criteria for selection of the Caribbean company as enumerated by CBN, NCS said those criteria were not enough to neglect Nigerian FinTech players who also have such qualities, adding that it has become very imperative for NCS to advise CBN on the way forward on the issue.
Worried about the situation, NCS met and issued a statement, advising CBN to revisit its selection process, and reconsider the need to select a competent Nigerian FinTech company that can handle the Job successfully to avoid unnecessary capital flight at a time when Nigeria’s economy is in bad shape.

In the statement, which was signed by its President, Prof. Adesina Sodiya and its Secretary, Mr. Iyiola Ayoola, and made available to THISDAY, NCS observed that Bitt Inc., the Fintech company, engaged by the CBN as the technical partner for its digital currency project, is a company of not more than three staff and a lower market capitalisation compared to any of Nigeria’s major FinTech companies.

It further observed that the CBN’s decision was a missed opportunity to further strengthen the value of Nigeria’s FinTech ecosystem, reduce the country’s undue exposure to FOREX imbalance and enhance the value of the Naira struggling against major currencies.

According to the statement, “The choice of Bitt Inc., would lead to noncompliance to IT policy and framework of federal government. By law, Ministries, Departments ams Agencies (MDAs) of government, are under obligation to seek clearance from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) before embarking on any IT project as enshrined in Section 6 of the NITDA Act, 2007, and by extension seeking clearance from Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), the only regulatory body saddled with that responsibility.

“Presidential Executive Order 003 of 2017 clearly states that all MDAs of government shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and services providers in their procurement of goods and services. Any document issued by any MDA of the government for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply of provision of goods and services, in accordance with the 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. Presidential Executive Order 005 of 2018. also corroborated Order 003 and go deep down to enumerate punishment for violations of these executive orders.These Orders were outrightly violated and their contents flagrantly jettisoned overboard.

The decision of the CBN to engage a foreign company that has no pedigree compared to dozens of our indigenous FinTech, is sheer capital flight.”
The statement further said Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), was supposed to enable Nigeria to take advantage of digital technologies in order to become a leading player in the global digital economy.

NCS therefore recommended that CBN must allow all the Fintech giants apply/bid for the job, since Nigeria has cutting edge financial technology development and implementation firms like Precise Financial Systems; SystemSpecs Nigeria the firm behind Remita; Migo Credit-as-a-Service digital platform; Unicorn limited; Flutterwave; OPay; Fintrack limited; Inksledger financial system, among others.

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