First, let it be said that the uninformed disruption of the ICT performance indicator and in particular, the telecommunications sector is capable of setting back the tele-density gains of Nigeria by two decades if the sentimentally orchestrated greed is allowed to thrive! Let it also be remembered that by comparison, if it took over three decades to deliver only 720 thousand telephone lines out of which less than 400 lines were connected and partially working.
It therefore becomes a simple arithmetic to decipher what will happen when the current Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-enabling environment is left in the hands of Maverick Pirates who are indeed Techno-blind but mentally driven by unprecedented greed of the moment as a trade-off for our future digital disaster. This converging calamity should not be allowed to emerge nor be actualized. It should not happen through wishful thinking.
The recent Klu-Klax-Clan orchestrated call on “I want Ndukwe’s job” is to say the least, a national sabotage and an incubating national disgrace to the constructive development of Information and Communications Technology in Nigeria today. Indeed such acts which can be said to have originated by gross ignorance of the highest order in the ICT environment and clandestinely put forward to distract the development of IT should be classified as a colossal crime to the foundation of Nigeria’s global competitiveness future. Today every Dick and Dumb has suddenly arrived to become an ICT Guru. Those who were selling broken blocks, roasted yam, plantain, gala, pure water and groundnut have suddenly (shamefully) become local ICT champions and fly-by-night experts.
The crux of the matter is that to professionally deliver and sustain a functional and scalable national ICT architecture is not mastered overnight. Dr. Enrest Ndukwe unknown to many is indeed the “Digital Magician” (of high repute) of our time! This is an exceptionally gifted man who has broken all known technology leadership management and development records in Africa, nay in the world, yet greed blinds us to see beyond the immediate by covertly building very dangerous and overt self-interest impediments.
Is this why the continental brain drain erosion has intensified? Does this reveal the bane of Africa’s (Nigeria’s) technology-aided leadership development today? Whatever the hidden agenda maybe, it is time for Africa and Nigeria precisely, to understand and accept that she cannot continue to be and/or play the enemy-within. Nigeria can no longer continue to wish for technology development rather, she must earn it.
Those who myopically feel they can set back the hands of the digital clock are better be informed that this is no longer possible nor feasible, because information-sufficient knowledge process has already taken over and the creative class of the new economy has emerged – maximally equipped with the commensurate IT capabilities, tools, skills and compatible solutions to adequately respond to unforeseeable challenges.
According to Drucker, the challenge for knowledge creation and success in business has always been, as he puts it, “it is not how to do things right, but how to find the right persons to do the things to do.” Today, the most contingent and right thing to do is to perhaps clone Engineer Ernest Ndukwe and multiply his professional leadership competence and tenacity to deliver world class ICT best practice performance with an extra-ordinary computing skills. I am sure this is one of the major tasks Nigeria faces today in the transformation process of our national vision.
As the world transits into the Information Society [IS], new conditions for professional leadership, business, living, education, employment, work and entertainment are being defined, created and harnessed at almost the speed of light. These conditions are, to a large extent, dictated by information and communications technology-based innovation, skill-acquisition, support and maintenance culture.
Some view the changes effected by global networks and information technologies with great apprehension. Others consider it as a revolution with potential digital resources for worldwide cooperation. The emergence of this information-intensive knowledge society therefore challenges all nations to meet the need, not just for business, governance and industry, but more so for professional leadership, social interaction and life-long education at all levels.
The character of a nation we are informed, ‘is governed by the structure, operational dynamics and charge-management of her information systems’ – which develop and filter into core knowledge and intelligent applications. Conventional wisdom therefore dictates that in-country poverty cannot and will not be eradicated by monetary grants and loans - unless a sizeable reliable and efficient knowledge-base and critical intelligence network is country-resident.
In other words, the comparative advantage of nations this century, will be entirely based on human knowledge creation. Science propelled Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become a critical element and the engine room for modern governance and indeed a subject of major concern to the existence of all human entities. It is therefore recognised as the core/inexcusable tool for a more purposeful, strategic and sustainable development. It also facilitates the creation and equitable sharing and distribution of community/national wealth.
In assessing the development and diffusion of Science and Technology globally – and in particular, the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), - three group of countries may be distinguished: countries that are leaders in this field, including the innovation, production and generation of Science and Technology roadmap as well as the application of its research findings.
This is followed by those where some capacity for the production and application of Science and Technology has been developed but continued to depend on the first group for the survival of their production lines. Finally, the last group is those where Science and Technology is still at the embryonic stage and access to it depends solely on importation. This last group is the consumer countries, in which Nigeria is a classical example. The Global Internet Access and Usage showed a typical example of global knowledge divide also known as digital divide?
Today, Ndukwe’s ICT ingenuity has facilitated perhaps the single largest capacity building spectrum for job creation and employability opportunities for the majority of Nigerians in the last 8 years. The global information society demands higher levels of efficiency in governance, education, infrastructure, economy, culture and commerce, since there is now only one global standard in ICT. The gross implication is that Globalization can essentially be viewed as a “global technology revenue basket” where inventor participants “earn credits” and consumer nations “pay debts”. You are therefore, either buying (conspicuous consumption}, and/or selling in the delivery of services to the new knowledge economy!
Leadership, governance and in particular, educational institutions will have to face up to the challenge of facilitating lifelong learning. The task ahead is, that of transforming the art of governance and education from the inculcation of information to instilling the skill of ‘critical reasoning’ in leadership. ICT offers the potential for economic growth and increased prosperity with reduced impact on the environment and lower consumption of non-renewable resources.
The new ICT frontier is all about Information sufficiency and knowledge-connectivity for economic development and cultural emancipation. In 2002, World Information Technology Services Alliance (WITSA) – of which Nigeria is currently not a member, but many other developing nations are (including mini African countries) - entered into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to create an Information Technology Mentors Alliance. The alliance enhances the capacity and sustainability of ICT industry associations in emerging economies to promote the ICT for economic development.
Ernest Ndukwe has demonstrated a great tenacity in mastering the tide in the turbulent ocean of ICT where many sharks have been tamed.
Today, lessons learnt from Ndukwe’s ICT due diligence performance records reveals that: “unless a meaningful chunk of developing countries IT spend (investment) is consciously and transparently deployed and managed by core and patriotic professionals (with cognate skills capable of creating knowledge domains such as Software Research, Design and Development, Critical and Specialized Infrastructure, IT Capacity Building/Training, PC Ownership Density and Internet penetration, Information Systems Services and Project Implementation and Management), they will remain perpetual consumers and digital slaves of the emerging knowledge society and digital economy - what Ndukwe has vowed to discontinue for ever.
However, one is consoled by the fact that Nigeria, with a vibrant youthful population, about 42.3 per cent stands to benefit immensely. The Nigerian Youths are the positive force of the emerging digital warriors of our future. They are the protectors of our digital future. Government should therefore shore up the political will to ploy significant resources to build formidable IT responsive institutions, infrastructure, leadership skill (such as that of Dr. Ernest Ndukwe’s) - and World-class Software knowledge-skilled capacities and capabilities.
Instead of clamoring for Ndukwe’s job, we should strategize on how to bring back ex-CEOs as layer-consultants to most of the nation’s development corridors. In any case, if you want Ndukwe’s job, - come and get it and be ready to grow gray hairs from the first nano-second in office … a word is enough for the wise.
•Chris Uwaje, President of Global Network for Cybersolutions.
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