Could you tell you about yourself?
My name is Mr. Sikiru Shehu; I am the Registrar of Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria). I am a fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society and chartered member of the Information Technology profession, an executive board member, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), and a member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG).
What is the relevance of CPN in Information Technology development in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, CPN develops standards for Information Technology practice and ensure compliance by individuals and corporate bodies that practice the computing profession or render IT services in whatever form. CPN is an abbreviation of Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria). According to the Act that established CPN. CPN is the apex regulatory body for Information Technology in Nigeria. It was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria), (CPN) was established by Act No 49 of 1993. The Act was passed into law on 10th of June and gazetted on the 9th of August that year. CPN is a regulatory body charged with the regulation, control and supervision of the computing profession and practice in Nigeria in line with Section 1 (2) of the Act, and is under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education.
Its functions and responsibilities include the following:
1. To determine the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the computing profession and improve those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit.
2.To secure, in accordance with the provision of the Act, the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons seeking to be registered under the Act to practice the computing profession and the publication from time to time of the list of such persons.
Consequently, the Council is responsible for the following among other things:
- Organization, Control and supervision of computing practice in Nigeria.
- Screening of individuals seeking to be registered to engage in the sale of computational machinery and techniques related thereto and the provision of professional services in computing in the country.
- Ensuring high computing professional Ethics and Standards.
- Creation and sustenance of local and international contacts for our numerous members,
- Reduced charges for some specific professional services and facilities.
- Determining academic standards in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and other related disciplines.
- Accreditation of institutions’ courses and programmes as well as evaluation of certificates in computing.
- Conducting professional examination in computing in collaboration with the Nigeria Computer Society.
- Publication of the Register of Computer Professionals and other professional works like journals, books, magazines and newsletters.
The Act 49 of 1993, referred to above, makes it mandatory for all persons and organizations seeking to engage, or who are engaged in the sale and/or use of computing facilities, and the provision of professional services in computing or related computing machinery in Nigeria to be registered by the Council and licensed to carry out such activities. It is illegal to engage in computing and professional practice without satisfying the above condition- registration and possession of a current valid licence.
CPN is supervising computing practice in the country; and there are computer professionals practicing without registering with CPN. What is the implication of this?
It is true that there are computer companies and even individuals that are practicing computing in Nigeria without registering with CPN. We all know that Information Technology is a profession that cuts across other professions. Therefore, it is a profession that makes substantial input into different disciplines and aspects of our life. Therefore, there is need for caution and awareness generating programmes so that members of public will be able to differentiate between a computer user and a professional. This is necessary because we have find ourselves in a situation in which Information Technology practice is becoming an all comers affair. Therefore, as a step towards solving the problem, the Council instituted an awareness generating programme that is known as IT Stakeholders forum. The programme is taking place in all the geo-political zones in Nigeria. The thinking behind this programme is that we want to make sure that we educate the masses on the need for regulation of IT profession, CPN and its activities as well as professionalism in the IT industry. We have held the programme in South-West Lagos, and South- East Owerri as well as Abuja. We look forward to hold the programme in other geo-political zones. By the time enough awareness is provided. Then, we can now start applying force by bringing the full weight of the law to bear on recalcitrant people. That is why we still have some people practicing without registering with us. It is a temporary thing. It is not a situation that will continue like that.
What is CPN doing to ensure that IT training institutes in the country meet the required standard?
CPN is doing a lot on the issue of standard and quality control in Information Technology education. CPN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and with inputs from different stakeholders put together the National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF) document. We have observed that Information Technology Education, particularly in the non-formal sub sector, has been an all-comers’ affair, devoid of a coherent framework regarding the scope, content and quality. As a result, there is a proliferation of computer training outfits in nooks and crannies in Nigeria, offering all sorts of certificates and programmes based on curricula that are undefined in philosophy, objectives and content for relevant skill acquisition. There is therefore a compelling need to design a specific framework for the structuring and regulation of the formal and non-formal educational institutions offering training in Information Technology in Nigeria in order to ensure global standard. This is what informed the development of the NITEF document.
Could you tell us about the essence of Information Technology Assembly scheduled to hold in July this year?
CPN Information Technology Assembly is an annual event where Information Technology practitioners from the nooks and crannies of the country and abroad gather together to rub minds and exchange ideas on topical issues that affect the profession and the nation’s quest for greatness in IT and draw a roadmap for the future. The event is an assemblage of senior Information Technology decision makers in the private and public sectors of the economy, Information Technology consultants, upcoming entrepreneurs, strart-ups, IT Teachers, System Administrators etc. The assembly is also a platform to showcase some of the industry’s most innovative technologies as well as new products and services for participants to appreciate the emerging technologies, trends and risks that are associated with transforming the various industries using Information Technology.
What is the impact of CPN to the development of IT in the country?
CPN has made so much impact in the development of Information Technology in Nigeria. I will want to enumerate some of the impact we have made in the Information Technology profession in Nigeria.
We have put in place a Computer Professional Examination that will enable the products to become registered IT practitioners as we have in other professions like Accounting, Banking etc. Through the exam, the profession will no longer be seen as being elitist. Then, I mention the NITEF document earlier in this interview. It is part of our achievements.
It was developed by CPN in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Education (FME). The National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF) is the first attempt to provide a roadmap for the development of IT education in Nigeria. NITEF is targeted at ensuring that appropriate skills, competencies and attitudes are imparted to enable Nigeria take advantage of the global opportunities in Information Technology. Also, we have set up e-Learning and e-Campus platform to jumpstart open and distance learning programme in Information Technology. This has made it possible for people to study from the comfort of their homes through the virtual school on our CPN online campus. Then, we try to ensure quality control and standards.
Additionally, we put in place an accreditation programme of formal and informal institutions offering computer studies. We have visited Universities to accredit their Computer Science programmes and we also signed an agreement of joint accreditation of Polytechnics and Monotechnics in Nigeria with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). This is part of our statutory duty as spelt out in Para 2(1A) of Act 49 of 1993; The signing of the MoU became important to cut out the issue of double accreditation and by extension duplication of resources by the two bodies, and much more importantly, so that standards would be consistently the same. Similar arrangements are being worked out with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Council for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
CPN, in conjunction with National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) developed the Computer Studies curriculum for Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is handling the distribution of the document to schools. Then, the Register of registered members of the profession is been published periodically to advise employers of labour in the public and private sector of the need to employ the services of qualified IT personnel. This is in addition to providing a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for registered members of the profession. This is done with the aim of promoting professionalism and good practice in the industry. Also, we have put in place Mandatory Continuing Development Programmes (MCPD) for registered members in order to enable them update their knowledge in IT. There are host of other things which I cannot mention for lack of space here.
Could you distinguish between the roles of Nigeria Computer Society and that of CPN in IT development?
The Nigerian Computer Society is an association of professionals that come together to work towards the growth of the profession and individual professional development through professional development programmes put in place for the benefit of members. However, we work hand in hand for the betterment of the industry and the profession. The structural arrangement in the industry is such that CPN is the apex regulatory body. The Nigeria Computer Society is a non-governmental organization while CPN is a government agency. The activities of the society are being guided by its constitution as put together by members and other interest bodies. The interest bodies group include: ITAN, ISPON, NIG etc. Therefore, NCS and its interest groups has twelve representatives in the CPN Council which means that all the interest bodies are represented in the CPN Council. The point here is that CPN is different from NCS, but we work hand in hand.
How do you intend to assist in the implementation of National ICT4D action plan?
CPN is currently working with stakeholders in the Information Technology profession to make the dream of the nation as encapsulated in the national ICT for development programme a reality. We are of the opinion that with innovative and dynamic IT policies, a country could leapfrog from being an IT consuming nation to an IT producing one. A good example is the Asian Tigers, Malaysia, Singapore, India etc who have recorded giant strides in Information Technology. Through proper policy direction on Information Technology, the aforementioned Asian countries were able to leapfrog from the status of a backward nation to that of the fastest developing economies in the world. Our own story could be the same if we put our acts together. Therefore, we have a robust working relationship with NITDA. Once there is proper understanding and harmony in the profession. We will be able to work with government to actualize the vision of implementing the contents of the ICT 4 development programme for better result.
What is CPN doing to ensure that University curriculum for IT related courses are changed in line with current trends in the industry?
We all know that Information Technology is a very dynamic profession. In fact, it is the fastest developing profession in the world now. Therefore, there is need for proper update of knowledge and skills in order to keep abreast of new developments in the profession. CPN is conscious of the need to update the Computer Science curriculum in our higher institutions and some steps are being taken to address it. That kind of project will require the assistance and incorporation of people from the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and it will definitely take sometime for the result to manifest. In fact, CPN/Federal Ministry of Education (FME) and NITDA/Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) have embarked on a collaborative process to commence IT curricula review immediately, all stakeholders inclusive.
Could you explain to us what e-library of CPN is about?
CPN, in its desire to assist the people especially the youth in having access to study materials in the comfort of their homes. CPN set up e-Learning and e-Campus platform to jumpstart open and distance learning programme in Information Technology. This has made it possible for people to study from the comfort of their homes through the virtual school on our CPN online campus. Access to our e-campus could be got through the purchase of our e-transact pin from any Zenith Bank branch. The price of the e-transact pin is very affordable.
Who are eligible to register for CPN exam? And what certificate do you give such people?
The Computer Professional Examination has different entry points for different categories of candidates depending on the candidates’ background. Candidates with less than five ordinary level credits have their entry points, from which they can gradually move up while those with five credits and higher qualifications also have their entry points. The examination was designed in such a way that candidates who want to exit from the examination at any stage or level, for whatever reason, can do so and still have a certificate for the skill and knowledge acquired. Every stage or level of the examination has a corresponding recognition approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Graduates of the examination are expected to be industry-ready and immediately employable, and will enjoy similar status and benefits like graduates of other professional bodies like ICAN, CIBN, COREN etc. Therefore, the examination is not elitist at all. It is open to all and sundry.