Professor Vincent Asor is the newly elected President/ Chairman of Council of the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) [CPN].
In this interview with Emeka Aginam, the University Don listed his major policy thrust, assuring that establishing a clear career path for IT professionals will be his top priority. He however, condemned in clear terms, quackery in the Nigerian IT practice.

Establishment of CPN

The Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) [CPN] was established by Decree No. 49 of 1993, promulgated on June 10, and gazetted on August 9 of that year in recognition of the increasing global prominence of Information Technology (IT) and its role as a driver of socio-economic development.

CPN is a body charged with the control and supervision of the computing profession in the country. The Council is primarily charged with responsibility for building-up local Information Technology (IT) capacity as well as the regulation of IT practice in Nigeria.
As the apex regulatory body in the education and practice of IT in Nigeria, we seek to enhance industry standards in order to strategically position IT for significant contribution to national development. CPN promotes professionalism and quality computer education such that IT becomes a critical success factor in national development.

CPN mandate:

As the regulatory authority in IT education and practice in Nigeria, the Council&rsquos mandate is to provide a regulated and standard-driven environment for IT education and practice in Nigeria such that socio-economic development is engendered.
Council is also 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.

Progress so far:

In its quest to ensure that the profession and its practitioners are strategically positioned to add value to the society, Council has made significant progress on issues such as: the establishment of a standard framework for qualitative IT education in Nigeria in collaboration with stakeholders in the education sector through the instrumentality of the National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF), joining forces with the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) in ensuring that sub-standards computer products are not imported into the country, the establishment of the Computer Professionals Examination (CPE) that provides IT skills and knowledge that enhance IT capacity of public servants, among others.

My policy thrust

Regarding my policy thrust, I will say between now and the next two years that I am President and Chairman of Council, I want to ensure that IT is properly regulated. Beyond that, I also want to see government using information technology in doing her businesses. I want to see a doctor doing his job effectively using IT.

I want to see IT in governance, in education and every sphere of life.

IT is like oxygen that when you remove it from you, you will not die on the spot, but you will die gradually. The medical doctor can do anything he wants to do but whether he likes it or not, if he wants speed, effectively he needs IT.
The Accountant can do his work, write and get results but for efficiency, effectiveness and speed, he needs IT and that is where computational machinery comes to effect.

We are not saying that because you have a computer for personal use in your home, you should come and register with us, no!
But when you are using computational machinery to exercise some particular functions that will generate funds, that will cause you to be regulated because it could be used to cause havoc that is why government set CPN up.

Also, establishing a clear career path for IT professionals in this country that will give them a sense of direction where they belong is top on my agenda. Making sure that CPN and other sister Agencies like the NUC, NITDA, etc work together is also top priority for me and I am pursuing it already. These are two fundamental things that i wish to lend myself to as President/Chairman of Council these next 2 years.

By the time we are able to create a clear career path which is already almost completed, and people begin to see a home where they are going to belong and beyond that, by the time everybody now sees that he has a home and I tell you that it is your responsibility to know and ensure that that person who has opened a computer training institute is not fully registered, that he has the wherewithal to train people, not just going to feed them with trash, then people will begin to pay attention.Those are my thrust issues.

Sanity in the computing profession

As a regulator, between now and the end of my two year tenure, I want to put in place sanity in the computing profession.
Now coming to register with Council will now be the second aspect, I am going to go the whole hog to ensure that computing standard is maintained. we are going to tell people that they should do the right thing.

At the end of the day, I want to see a work force that is IT-oriented or a work force that is managed by IT personalities.
I want to see a situation where there is a cyber crime law that can tell you that I can manage a cyber fraud for you. If my members default, I can boldly come out to say that you have defaulted.

I want to see companies, persons who are operating within the IT ecosystem doing the right thing and using the right tools to work. This is where am looking at and at the end of the day, the career path for IT professionals must have been established and see that they have already improved. So that is my thrust in a nutshell.

On quackery

You see quackery is there in every business. Whether it is computing, accounting, medical or engineering profession, quackery will always be there. Quacks can be classified in several forms. We have people who are true professionals but still engage in the act of quackery. Then we have people who are not professionals, but claim to be professionals and engage in the act of quackery.

And then we have those people who are not anywhere and they come to learn the trade and because of their intelligence, they engage in the act of quackery. Over the last few weeks after my election as President and Chairman of council, I have had the opportunity of having meetings with members of staff of the Secretariat of CPN.

And then we are looking at how we can incorporate these artisans and drag them into the workforce. I want them to come. We are trying to establish a cadre for them so that they can understand that it is not good to be quacks so that we can also design a path for them.

On accreditation

It could have been good for me to take you to the Act. If you look at the Act establishing CPN, &ldquo&hellipIt shall be the duty of council to determine what standard of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the profession and improving those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit&hellip&rdquo What that means to me is that for those people seeking to become members of CPN like those in the University for Degrees in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Science with Mathematics or Physics with Mathematics and all other courses around IT, that is Computer Science and Allied Courses.

These are the people that will come in tomorrow and say they want to practice the profession. Now if they are going to be coming from somewhere and the Act says I have the power to determine the standard of knowledge and skills, what does that mean?
It means that you go to those schools, those people that are making them, bringing them up to come and practice the profession and help those people to ensure that they have the correct standard of knowledge and skills.

This same Act that I have read has a link with the National Universities Commission(NUC). The NUC also has a right to determine the standard of knowledge, but when it comes to computer practice, the rule says I shall determine that.

Now let me put it succinctly in a way that you will appreciate it better. When you have a medical doctor who went go to school to learn, when he comes out, what does he do? He does not begin to practice. He must go the Medical and Dental Council to register and the medical and dental college will now give him a license to operate. That now makes him a qualified medical doctor.

Now, the process of going to register and getting a license comes in several folds and that is essentially what we are saying to the IT professionals. And now the Medical and Dental Council go to a university to ensure the appropriate facilities that must be put in place for an institution to graduate someone as a medical doctor.

If the institution does not have those things, then they cannot graduate their students because they do not have what it takes. And that is exactly what the engineering body, COREN is also doing.
Getting a Bachelors degree in any profession is not enough for one to practice and that is why these Councils go into these universities to accredit these institutions.

We have challenges but those challenges are going to be a thing of the past because I am already making inroads, talking with NUC for them to understand and appreciate that we are partners in progress for proper education of the citizenry.
IT education in universities I will not begin to defend universities or begin to tell you about programmes in the universities. Of course what you have pointed out is part of what we have been called to do. We have a supervisory ministry which is the Ministry of Education and which incidentally the NUC falls under.

Now, we are going to partner with NUC and the Ministry of Education and we are going to ensure that institutions are up to date in terms of the standards and with the Ministry. We will begin to implement them.
It is very simple. Then NUC, CPN and other relevant Agencies of government will work together to apply the standards and the agreements that we have with the Ministry of Education into these programmes.

And believe it or not, even if you have only forty students, inside the forty students, some will be good, some will be average, some will be below standards and some will be bad. And people do not remember the ones that are good up there, the ones that people remember are the ones that are bad.

And you see it is the ones that are bad that are remembered that cause us these bad names that we hear. As a university Professor who teaches courses in Mathematics and Computer Science, I know how much time I take to make my notes.
I know how much time and efforts I concentrate on my students but still among them there are those who are not willing to learn. It is like taking a horse to the stream, you can&rsquot force it to drink water, but you will keep on trying your best.

There is no application of issues that do not have challenges. Of course I expect there will be a whole lot of push backs. Anything that has to do with regulation which means that people have to pay registration fees, annual license fees, also means that there will be some resistance, but I am sure that we are going to overcome all these challenges.

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