By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is initiating an appropriate blueprint that will serve as the guiding principles for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research programmes in the country.
The initiative is expected to enhance Nigeria’s participation in the ongoing global digital revolution.
To achieve the initiative, NCC has appointed a seven-man panel of technology experts to look critically at issues relating to ICT research.
The panel, which is chaired by the former Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, submitted its final report to the NCC Board and Management at the weekend.
Other members of the panel include: Chairman, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Titi Omo–Ettu; Administrator of DBI, Dr. Ike Adinde; Prof. Mohammed Ajiya; Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano; Johnson Asinugo and Mr. Shehu Olaniya.
Chairman of NCC Board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, who received the report in the presence of Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Sunday Dare and other members of the executive management, said the initiative was to invite eminent Nigerians with “deep knowledge, expertise and experience in ICT to serve on the panel of experts and in their capacity to advise the NCC on ICT discovery, technology innovations, through the instrumentality of research and capacity building.”
Premised on the commitment of the NCC to the establishment of ICT learning and education in Nigeria, Durojaiye said: “The Board deeply considered setting up a merit based process for objective selection of young Nigerians resident in the country and in diaspora for special training and capacity building to enhance Nigeria’s participation in the ongoing global digital revolution.”
Durojaiye added: “It is pertinent to note that the Digital Bridge Institute, an innovation of the commission, already has ample basic facilities to house ICT Research Centres in Lagos and Abuja to start with.
“The Commission is desirous of refocusing the DBI to actualise its mandate in accordance with the ideals of its founding fathers. This includes the need to identify the numerous ‘Bill Gates’ and ‘Mark Zukerberg’ of Nigeria, who are currently roaming the streets of Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Port-Harcourt and indeed across every other city and state in Nigeria in search of paid Jobs.”
The challenge is for our youths to be major actors in the world fourth industrial revolution by discovery, innovating and inventing solutions that will address current and future needs of mankind. Nigeria will thereby earn more foreign exchange and respect in the comity of Nations, Durojaiye said.
While presenting the panel report, Ndukwe said: “When I was contacted by the NCC Chairman, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, to lead this assignment, I was a bit hesitant because of the tight schedule I was running at the time which left little room for any extra demand on my time.
“But on a second thought, I did not see how I could say. Let me assure the Chairman, the EVC and members of the commission that I have been both excited and happy that I took up the assignment for several reasons.
“First being that the panel is truly a team of experts and with the required know-how and unmatched commitment to get the job done.
“Secondly, I equally felt challenged that such a bold, creative and revolutionary idea was coming from someone as advanced in age as the NCC Chairman. His speech at the inauguration of the panel was not only impassioned, it also presented a robust vision whose sense of urgency was palpable.”
According to Ndukwe, the World Economic Forum in its 2017 Global Information Technology report had stated that “ICTs are vectors of economic and social transformation by improving access to services, enhancing connectivity, creating business and employment opportunities”.
He also pointed out that the Heads of States and Government in the United Nations’ declaration at the beginning of the new millennium had resolved, among other things, “to develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work.”
“The Secretary General of the United Nations, in his report to the Millennium Assembly, highlighted the need to explore imaginative approaches to this difficult challenge. This must be what NCC seeks to achieve for the nation by this initiative,” Ndukwe said.