There is no doubt that for a country’s economy to gain ascendancy to a prosperous position that would guarantee improved quality of life of citizenry in the world of 21st century where continual exploitation of depletable resources poses great threat of resource depletion, certain key sectors of the economy must be accorded top priority. One of these critical sectors in the present time is the Information and Communication Sector.
It is, therefore, this realisation that midwifed the circumstances of appointing Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami as, first, Director General National Information Technology Development Agency and, second, Minister Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy by president Muhammadu Buhari.
The appointment of Dr Isah Pantami, an IT recondite with all the requisite hallmarks of the man-for-the-job under his assigned fort polios as DG NITDA and now minister, saw the beginning of revolutionary era of ICT in Nigeria as the sector is now receiving heavy boost that is aiding the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
For instance, in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, the ICT sector, under the dynamic stewardship of the digital minister in Dr. Isa Ali, contributed 14.07% to Nigeria’s GDP, a contribution that was unprecedented in the history ICT sector in the country.
This further construes the determination of the minister in straining every nerve to work within the remit and mandate of the ministry: creating jobs, ensuring economic growth and development and employment of ICT in transparency and accountability of governance.
During his stint as DG NITDA between 2016 and 2019 before his appointment as Minister, Dr. Pantami, through his boisterous efforts and commitment, has brought a paradigm shift in ICT in Nigeria. Dr Pantami’s policies – business-friendly and youth-targeted, development-driven – resulted in the construction of many information technology centres across schools in the country.
The many strategic capacity building initiatives during his stewardship as DG culminated into the empowerment of tens of hundreds of civil and public servants, youth, women and physically challenged individuals. While this had (and is) directly impacting on the economy, it has taken thousands of people out of the pernicious hands of poverty.
By way of example, by the courtesy of Dr Isah when he was NITDA boss, a Community Information Technology Centre was established at Community Science Secondary School in my hometown, Dukku in Gombe State.
This was confirmed in a letter of confirmation and appreciation to the DG NITDA by the school’s principal, Malam Muhammad A. Musa.
The project, important as it is especially in this era that virtually all human activities in different spheres are taken by the ICT, will not only benefit the school, but the entire people in the locality. Equipped with standard facilities – laptops, internet service, solar power system and other gadgets – the centre has since started operating, serving as place where students acquire basic computer knowledge, skills, and expertise and receive other computer programs and training.
My foundation, FOUND TO SUPPORT ONE; which has the mission of creating opportunities for sound education, entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, leadership development, skill acquisition to enable youth take full responsibility of their lives towards personal growth and development; has during its tour to some of the ICT centres within Gombe state interacted with many beneficiaries of the projects, and they could not hide their happiness and appreciation over the establishment of such projects in their localities.
Through the skill acquisition programs under the auspices of the ICT centres built by Dr Pantami in Gombe state, today, many people have since carved out a niche in computer-related businesses that fetch good fortunes in today’s digital world.
However, the only challenge, as gathered during our tour to the centres, was inadequate IT specialists who could handle and manage the centres in the most diligent and effective way. And this, we feel sure, will be addressed by the minister.
While my foundation is ever willing to laud efforts directed towards building the capacity of youth, women, orphans and the vulnerable in the society, we will continue to chart out development agenda for this category of people by answering the call of our minister to leverage and harness the full potential of ICT in order to bring forth positive development in the country as the whole world is tilting its direction towards ICT.
Little wonder Nigeria’s president, having realised the indispensability of ICT in this and age, made Dr Isah minister of Communications and Digital Economy after having made to wear the thorny mantle of steering NITDA, which Dr Isah steered expertly to a satisfying destination until his ascendancy to a new role.
Dr Pantami’s expert management of NITDA not only carved him awards within and outside Nigeria but indicated how his expertise has aided the growth of Nigeria’s technological ecosystem. That is why the ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is now making a leap under Pantami’s watch.
The recent transfer of NIMC to the Dr Isah’s ministry is a clear indication of the president’s faith with the minister’s determination in leveraging digital technology for national development.
Aside from his huge contribution to the country’s GDP, the minister’s policies are helping in the decimation of Boko Haram and other terrorists. It could be recalled that Dr Pantami had ordered the blockage of unregistered sim cards to thwart and frustrate the activities of terrorists that are posing threat to the country’s peaceful atmosphere.
As though serving the role of a legislator, through the magnanimity of Dr Isah in his current capacity as minister, Gombe state is enjoying many federal government intervention programs.
Only a few months after his assumption of office, Dr made visits to key ministries such as that of agriculture and rural development to establish rapport with the ministers and talk them into giving any interventions to Gombe where possible.
It is, therefore, against this backdrop that we felt under the obligation to appreciate our Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy in view of the achievements he is recording.
FOUND TO SUPPORT ONE, a Gombe-based foundation with the motto LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND, appreciate in no small measure the concerted efforts of the minister and further expresses its readiness and determination to work in the minister’s suit of harnessing the potential of ICT to achieve its short and long term goals.
Abdulrahman Mijinyawa writes this piece from Gombe and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, 08069610971