Permit me to stand on the already existing protocol. Good day to you all. It is a privilege that I stand before this assembly of great men and women of great accomplishments. I thank DigitalSENSE Africa Media and Etisalat Nigeria for giving me this rare opportunity to stand before you and make this presentation.
As I was gearing up for my 2nd semester examinations in first year, in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I was informed by my elder brother that DigitalSENSE is organizing an essay contest in partnership with Etisalat Nigeria. The essay competition, he said, is for Nigerian undergraduates. We were a bit hesitant about writing for the contest because of the impending examinations. I needed a laptop and that was enough reason to make an entry. Then, I had no laptop and no hope of affording any soon. As a student of the Electronic Engineering, I needed a laptop. I made out time and wrote an essay on the topic “Net Neutrality and Nigerian Internet Users”.
In the wee hours of July 17, 2015, I woke up to the news that I have been adjudged the best entrant and therefore awarded the star prize. It was the laptop I needed plus a full year internet access provided by Etisalat. It was unbelievable! My first prize as an undergraduate. My siblings (two elder brothers and a younger sister) are seasoned essayists and have won several awards. I couldn’t wait to open my own record! It’s a realization of my hard work since 2011, when I ventured into writing. Even though I was shortlisted as one of the finalists in the 2012 UBA national essay competition, clinching this star prize was a dream come true.
We have grasped the opportunities that internet has given us. We owe the internet a whole lot. When I was interviewed on my position about internet governance last year, I decried the below average level of awareness on internet governance. Fast forward to 2016 and if you ask me the same question, my answer still remains the same. This makes this forum a very vital one. I thank DigitalSENSE for organizing such event with far reaching results. And I want to commend and urge Etisalat Nigeria to continue her partnership with DigitalSENSE Media Africa; it is a working partnership. We need to know who governs the internet and how it is governed. Does its governance take a hit on the founding philosophy of the internet which is open access to all? The questions are unending.
As part of my recognition as the star prize winner of this highly Etisalat sponsored prize last year, I was scheduled to attend the 2015 NIGF conference in Abuja where I was to represent the DigitalSENSE Media Africa and Etisalat. Part of my presentation today therefore, is to highlight my experience in that conference, and that’s what I will narrate now.
Having been registered for the 2015 NIGF conference scheduled to hold at the NAF Conference Centre and Suites, Kado, Abuja, I had to attend both the youth workshop on the 20th of July, and the plenary sessions on the 21st of July as a DigitalSENSE-Etisalat Student Ambassador. This particular opportunity was mouth-watering and I lack words to express my feelings. The youth workshop was fully packed with educative and inspiring topics aimed at redirecting the mind-sets of our youth and help propel them to a greater height—an enviable one. The youth workshop was tagged “Internet of Everything & Your Business Opportunity”. The entire session was directed at exposing the youth to the endless and unceasing opportunities that abound with the right use of the internet. And yesterday we were here to have a discourse on “Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for all Nigerians”. Such discourse has an infinite end.
The joy of the internet is optimized when the internet is totally freed of this thieves that have besieged it. Have you been redirected for once to any unintended website? Our internet sphere is very porous. And that is why DigitalSENSE role as the front burner and leader in the call for a better secured internet protocol is highly commendable. Nigerian addresses are very suspicious in the global community, no thanks to our internet burglars—the notorious yahoo yahoo boys. I was privileged to join the track that deliberated extensively on the issue of cybersecurity and trust in Nigeria, during the NIGF conference. We made different recommendations that when put in place, our cyberspace would be a safe haven. But IPv6 holds the key, our continued use of IPv4 is just an exhibit of our backwardness in the ICT world. We will be exposed to why IPv6 is the only way forward during today’s event.
Ladies and gentlemen, you need no soothsayer to tell you that I have benefitted from the partnership of DigitalSENSE and Etisalat. I have roamed the internet with great ease with the monthly 3GB Etisalat data that I receive monthly. Roaming the internet has also afforded me several opportunities that I have been able to grip. Suffice it to say that I am a testimony of the efficacy of this partnership. Giving more opportunities to young minds like me might just be the beginning of a better Nigeria that we wish. I have a great ambition of being an Etisalat intern in two years’ time, and I hope that this partnership which I have enjoyed will facilitate the actualisation of this well coveted dream.
Well, I flew to Lagos on the 22nd of July, 2015, for the prize presentation scheduled to hold on 24th July, 2015. That of course was after the two-day conference in Abuja. It was to hold at Etisalat office in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Let me introduce you to another interesting development in the competition. My immediate elder brother who is a seasoned essayist was the first runners up in the competition. Join me in thanking him for bringing the essay competition to my knowledge and allowing me to beat him. He and other winners were to join me in Lagos for the prize presentation. There, we were given Etisalat T-shirts and were even called to the high table. It was exciting, seeing myself sitting with men of high calibre. It was inspiring! I received a Lenovo laptop with Etisalat-Easyblaze Mifi with one full year of internet subscription; I departed Lagos on 25th July, 2015, with a life changed for good—an experience that changed my life forever! My classmates call me 20M, please Etisalat what does the M signify, million or metres? I have failed to give any answer to that question since July 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am back again in Lagos in June, 2016. I was supposed to make this presentation 24hrs earlier. As I was working on this speech, I received an SMS alert from the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students Association (UNILORIN chapter). Guess what, I have won the first prize of the essay competition they organised for the whole engineering students throughout this federation. I had to attend the award ceremony yesterday. My first time in Ilorin. Who knows whether I will be in Lagos next year? I wish I remain part of this DigitalSENSE/Etisalat partnership.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am meant to share my experience with you. In sum, what I experienced, is a dream come true! Believing that the next ambassador will not have less an exciting tenure, I pray, not just that ETISALAT continues to sponsor and expand this essay competition, but that corporate bodies in the ICT industry key-into this project, which I am sure will have a multiplier effect on the technological development of this country in the nearest future. Thank you ETISALAT for sponsoring this competition, thank you DigitalSENSE for finding me worthy of this prize, and thank you ladies and gentlemen, for listening to my little story. Thanks.
*Courtesy: Nic Onah, the Star Prize Winner, 2015 Etisalat-DigitalSENSE Students Essay Competition, made this presentation at the 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) and Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable in Lagos.ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!