The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reform, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has said that the Federal Government will roll-out a road map for implementation of blockchain technology in Nigeria.
Arabi said the BPSR is also planning to train 500,000 public servants ahead of the adoption of the new technology.
This was disclosed on Wednesday at a workshop organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission in Abuja.
The two-day event was in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms.
The development is coming amidst the Central Bank of Nigeria’s bid to stop the use of cryptocurrency in the official banking channel.
The CBN had in February 2021 banned banks from trading cryptocurrency and recently fined four banks over N800m for cryptocurrency related transactions.
Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.
The DG said the technology (blockchain) is “real and has come to stay”, adding that the government needs to innovate.
“Public service is the biggest beneficiary of blockchain. When you look at the responsibilities that are saddled with the public service, you will see that there is a lot to benefit out of blockchain technology,” the DG said.
He admitted that the public service is underperforming due to lack of efficiency in operations.
He added, “We cannot meet our target, we cannot change the life of a citizen if we are not efficient. There is a National Government e-Masterplan that has been approved by the Federal Executive Council which has set the strategy for digitisation for this massive movement of paper government and public service to paperless by the year 2030. The framework has been set up; the implementation has already started.
“From next year, assessments will be done electronically of everybody that is on IPPIS and working for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“As at the time this paper was being crafted and its strategy, little attention was paid to blockchain. But as it is a legal document, we can always review it. Blockchain is definitely going to be very important in implementing the e-government masterplan.
“We will come up with a robust road map for the implementation and adoption of blockchain technology in the public service in Nigeria. What we are trying to do is to sensitise Nigerians and public servants and we come up with the road map for the implementation of the blockchain technology.
“Adopting this technology will give us the privilege to improve on transparency and accountability, then working together between MDAs and most importantly it will break bureaucracy.”
The BPSR boss revealed that at the end of the conference, members will come up with the road map for the adoption of this technology (blockchain).
“Along the line, the concerned agencies will come up with that, but certainly you cannot open the system like that, adopt a new technology without regulations- it is virtually impossible,” he said.
To achieve the target, the DG revealed that the BPSR is partnering Digital Bridge and other institutions to train 500,000 public servants in IT and blockchain technology.
According to him, the decision was imperative as blockchain will help the government in decision making, secure data and reduce cost of governance.
He said, “We are trying to work with Digital Bridge and other institutions to get us to understand the language of digitisation to get us to speak it and understand digitisation and we call it digital literacy. Five hundred thousand public servants are going to be trained under this programme.
“We must reduce cost of governance and IT, blockchain in particular is here to reduce cost of governance and in the cause of doing that, some of us may be casualties, but when you lose on one side, you are going to gain on the other side and as patriotic citizens, we should put the country first beyond ourselves.
“So, if I lose my job and there will be improvement in the quality of public service in Nigeria, I will lose it on my own today.”
According to him, aside from the benefits of efficiency, blockchain will improve the security of government data in the case of cyberwar like the case of Russia and Ukraine.
“Cyber security becomes very important for us to safeguard the data that we are generating, to safeguard our system, information and possibly to use it as a weapon of war as we move on.
“We are not able to get the nation’s budget to support most of our works and our activities. Using technology, we will become more transparent and more open and the international community will be willing to come and invest in Nigeria through Public Private Partnership, because the record and datas is available so that they can always check what we are doing,” he said.
He lamented that while 40 per cent of the national budget of Rwanda is funded by development partners, Nigeria has witnessed apathy from development partners.
Barrister Amaka Ukwueze of the University of Nigeria during her presentation emphasised on the legal framework necessary for the adoption of blockchain.
She said, “Government needs to promote legal certainty for blockchains application. We are talking about blockchain today, but if you don’t develop the market confidence, if you don’t develop the users’ confidence and make sure that people can trust this technology, people will still develop cold feet to trust this technology.
“Create a flexible regulatory environment that enables experimentation. There is a need to make room in developing new regulations, developing the laws and to make room for future innovations that may come up from the technology.”
She said government laws must not stiffen blockchain technology adding that “laws should encourage it (blockchain).”