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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jonathan receives ICTs Highest Award during FEC Meeting

ITRealms:
The Minister of Communications Technology, Dr (Mrs) Omobola Johnson formally presented the ICTs highest award to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Wednesday during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President had been conferred with the “Grand Commander of ICT promoters” by the ICT Media Initiative, a non-governmental organisation which organised the ICT Centenary Conference and Awards in commemoration of Nigeria’s 100 years.

Dr Johnson who had earlier received the award on behalf of the President at the event held at the Musa Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja last week informed the FEC which comprised of the President, Vice President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Service, Ministers and other top ranking government officials that the award was presented to Mr President because of his attributes as a user of ICTs in citizens’ interactions and policy initiation and execution in every aspects of governance in the Nigerian nation.

At the Presentation of the award, the chairman of the ICT Media Initiative, Mr Aaron Ukodie while justifying the award to the President stated that President Goodluck Jonathan’s catalytic impact on ICT development in the past five years has dwarfed achievements of his predecessors. 

Firstly, the creation of the Ministry of Communication Technology was a master stroke in the pursuit of his administration’s strategic focus on ICT as the fulcrum of the nation’s evolvement as a digital economy.  This is the first dedicated ministry for the development of the sector. The icing on the cake was when President Jonathan appointed a technocrat. It was the first time for an ICT technocrat to head such dedicated ministry.

He stated that the President Jonathan has further confounded critics and admirers by showing leadership in the use of ICT for social interaction and engagement. “The ICT Media Initiative recalls that in 2011,the global news network, CNN reported that President Jonathan was one of the most popular people on Social Media. The International news organization also noted that with over 246,000 Facebook fans, in that year alone, the Nigerian president surpassed the combined tally of British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and South African President Jacob Zuma. The use of this tool in social, political and economic engagements by the President has spurred so much enthusiasm by the citizenry who are increasingly engaging on the social networks,” he said.

According to him, “it is not only that the president has a Facebook presence; he has used the medium to engage the citizenry, providing them with information about what the government is doing and fielding questions from them. No Nigerian president in the past 100 years has been this open and transparent in his approach to governance.”

Mr Ukodie stressed that this gesture positioned the President on the dais as an epitome of e-governance. It is this direct and personal form of interaction that has endeared him to the growing army of young and web-savvy Nigerians.

Besides, he noted that the President’s use of Internet has brought about a catalytic impact on the growth of Internet users in Nigeria making the country Africa's biggest Internet market, as well as the continent's largest Facebook user base.

By 2012 Nigeria ranked number one in Internet and Face book usage in Africa with 48 million Internet users and 6.6 million Facebook users and number 11 in Internet usage globally. This was due to the impact of the various ICT policies that the Jonathan government has put in place.

The chairman also highlighted the President’s timely approval of the Freedom of Information Bill, which partly encourage citizen journalism and access to information, most of whom use social media platforms, to thrive is another testimony of his openness and transparency.

He said as well that the timeliness demonstrated by the President in the approval of the Nigerian Broadband Policy, and the setting up of a National Broadband Council, which is in sync with best practices and requirements by the International Telecommunication Union, was unmatched. According to him, such profound timely decision speaks glowingly of his understanding of the catalytic role broadband development plays in national development.

In his first term in office, Nigeria’s e-government rating by the United Nation has improved tremendously, moving 21 points, from 162 in 2012 to 141 in 2014 out of 193 countries rated in the recent UN Global e-Government Development Index for 2014. Nigeria’s e-Participation index has also improved by 22 points, ranking 97, up from 75 in 2012. Under his watch the National Identity Management Scheme has taken off.

This was a project that past presidents were unable to deliver. It is for these achievements and many others not captured here that we have decided to award the president the Grand Commander of ICT Promoters.

Other prominent personalities, who have contributed in upping the ante of the ICT industry as the greatest driver of the Nigerian economy, within the century, were equally rewarded with garlands of honour, at the first ever ICT Centenary Conference and Awards. They included the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations (UN) responsible for ICT, Dr. Hammadoun Toure who was decorated with “Africa’s ICT Ambassador”, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. (Mrs) Omobola  Johnson took away the trophy as the “Premier ICT Officer of the Federation” and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission was honoured as “The Consolidator” of the growth in the Nigerian telecom ecosystem.

On the night of glitz, colour, music and cultural dances, spiced with integrated African percussion, the chairman of OpenMedia and former EVC NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe was also decorated with “The Pathfinder” award for setting the pace for the revolution in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem. Others similarly honoured were: The Group Chairman of Zinox Group, Mr. Leo-stan Ekeh, “The ICT Visioner”, Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga “The Grand ICT Investor”, and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for using ICT to transform agribusiness in Nigeria.

 Also on the honours list were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Ibukun Abimbola Odusote - “The Nigeria Internet Amazon”; the founder and CEO of the CWG Plc, Mr. Austin Okere; CEO of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke; Managing Director, Edo State Information Communications and Technology Agency (ICTA), Mrs Olayemi Wonuola Keri, and the founder of Visafone, Mr Jim Ovia were also honoured.

Also brought to the podium for honours were the CEO of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem who was also former President of both ATCON and the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG). He alongside Chris Uwaje who also led several industry  fraternal bodies such as ITAN, NCS, Computer Professionals Registration Council and the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) were both decorated as “The ICT Evangelist” for the their advocacy roles in the industry.

Three state governors; Chief Willie Obiano (Anambra State), Comrade Adams Oshiomole (Edo State) and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (State of Osun) were also decorated for their roles in lifting ICT usage in their states. Corporate organisations honoured included MTN, NCC, GalaxyBackbone, NITDA, NIGCOMSAT, NIMC, CNSSL, Systemspecs and Remita.

Dr. Toure who gave the keynote address focussed on the theme: ICT in the Nigerian Centenary: Matching towards a Connected Nigeria, noted that ICT has become an inseparable tool for individual and corporate existence in the increasingly connected world.

He commended the Nigerian government for the purposeful pursuit of the broadband initiative and strategic action plan.

While also commending Dr Johnson of deserving the award as the Premier ICT Officer of the Federation, Mr. Ukodie commended her for carrying out several innovative strategies, action plans and policies that are unparalleled in Nigeria.

“She has identified the need for increase in rural telephone penetration in her digital inclusion policy; development of incubation centres; new Right of Way guidelines; launch of student PC ownership scheme; drive for local content among others as some of her major focus in the ICT industry. Under her watch Nigeria’s ICT growth indices are on a constant rise,” he noted.

+Remmy Nweke @DigitalSENSEng @NaijaAgroNet @GEJ

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