The originally targeted speed in building up technology capacity in the younger generations of Nigerians vide NITDEF Scholarship, organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has been punctured this year as the program hanging on account of paucity of fund from budgetary allocation.
However, the director general of the Agency Dr. Isa Pantami has given some explanations over the suspension of the 2016/2017 NITDEF Scholarship selection process.
According to him, the annulment has strong connection with serious budget deficit experienced in the Agency’s 2016 budget year which the scheme was appropriated for but no money was released to fund it.
Pundits had argued that capacity building remains a priority in the strategic roadmap of NITDA, the Agency’s strive to carry all Nigerians along seems to have been regularly derailed by bureaucracies in funding.
Details gathered from the office of the head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar, showed that the Agency has made the appropriation for the scheme in its 2017 budget year; consequently, a new selection process will be announced soon.
This, analysts say, means that either the agency may have not gotten its 2017 allocations or its 2017 budget is yet to be approved after all.
Observers also decried the official delays in the approval and release of budget funds especially to critical development oriented federal agencies in a nation that has indicated serious drive to switch to knowledge economy from its traditional resource economy.
According to NITDA, “Management urged all affected to participate in the 2017/2018 NITDEF selection process, also assures all 2016 candidates of not having to go through the regular registration and short listing processes.
“While regretting any inconveniences this may have caused the applicants, the Agency assures all candidates of justice, fairness and equity base on competitive merit.
“It is worthy of note that this is not the first time the Agency was not able to conclude the NITDEF scholarship process, the same happened in the Year 2012”, the statement reads.
Continuing, Umar confessed that “It will not be possible to move the item of 2016 to 2017 automatically without budget appropriation, since it has expired by signing a new budget. The only possibility is to validate them as part of 2017”.
“Up till now, nobody has been given an award. However, all the stages they have completed will not be repeated, but other stages must be completed. Like interview with test questions included, verification, signing of bond;
“Subject to availability of fund, NITDA is planning to increase the number of candidates since the scholarship is going to be locally; and
“We plan to accommodate them in 2017, subject to completing the processes as designed by the Agency”.
Business Hilights recalls that NITDA was created in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and co-ordinate general IT development in the country.
Accordingly, NITDA now, oversees the development and deployment of information technology in the country through human capital development with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based economy.