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FG adopts blockchain against forgery in NYSC

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By Abraham Adekunle

NITDA boss says the technology can help in certificate issuance and retrieval.

Blockchain is a method of recording information that makes it impossible or difficult for the system to be changed, hacked, or manipulated. A blockchain is a distributed ledger that duplicates and distributes transactions across the network of computers participating in the blockchain. The technology provides adequate security against manipulation and hacking. Another benefit is that it is open to everyone with an internet connection to verify, provided it is on a public server. Any record uploaded to it will be time-stamped and impossible to change.

Now, the Federal Government has revealed that it plans to leverage the technology to issue certificates to graduates of its National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). This was revealed by Nigeria IT development head. According to Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), it can help Nigeria tackle widespread forgery in issuing and retrieving certificates. Nigerians would consider this initiative as just right for the times since a number of government officials have been accused of allegedly forging their certificate.

NYSC and NITDA would collaborate on the initiative.

Yakubu Gowon’s regime created the program on May 22, 1973 as an avenue for the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of the nation after the Nigerian Civil War. It was set up by the Nigerian government to involve the youth in nation-building activities. University and polytechnic graduates are required to take part in the NYSC program for one year. This includes a compulsory three-week orientation camp and working at a primary place of assignment for a year.

Speaking at a recent stakeholders forum, the NITDA head revealed that the NYSC Director General had approached his agency for assistance on the widespread forgery of the NYSC certificates. Together, the two agencies settled on blockchain as the solution. “We have agreed to help them develop a system so that all NYSC certificates will be on the blockchain,” he stated. He acknowledged that there was a lot of forgery in the area. This incessant challenge was recently exposed after the agency claimed that Peter Mbah, a gubernatorial candidate in the South-Eastern state of Enugu, had forged his certificate. Mbah sued the agency and emerged victorious, and the NYSC was blamed for poor record-keeping.

Threats of jail term and hefty fines have achieved nothing.

In 2018, there was yet another NYSC scandal, where it emerged that then-Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun had forged her certificate. She was forced to resign after a local newspaper investigative report outed her. Of course, there was no other consequence for that allegation. Instead, the former minister reportedly relocated to the United Kingdom. The NYSC has issued threats of jail terms and hefty fines to curb the vice, but they have not done much. Globally, Nigeria ranks in the top 20 percent for corruption, so it was arguably dead on arrival.

But the technology could finally bring certificate forgery to an end. The BSV, with the lowest fees, stable protocol and massive scaling, has been proven in this field. Also, Kashifu told the attendees of the seminar that he believes that Nigeria can add over $40 billion to its economy through the adoption of this technology. The country leads in digital asset ownership in Africa despite the crackdown by the central bank. “We can use it to solve so many of our problems,” he noted. So, when the initiative is in place, all anyone needs to do is to verify from a portal in record time.

Awareness and training have started by NITDA already.

To position the country to leverage the technology, NITDA has embarked on an awareness and training campaign to impart blockchain skills to young Nigerians. The agency has collaborated with Domineum to train 32,000 Nigerians on it. Some of these people have started businesses from what they have learned, according to NITDA DG. NITDA has also partnered with enterprise blockchain solutions provider nChain to further the training initiative. Kashifu said that this partnership targets 500,000 Nigerians. He added that certificates for this program will be issued using the technology.

Related Link

NYSC: Website

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