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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Reinventing NACOSS with ICT4NEED

The need to reposition the Nigerian computer science students came to the fore recently at the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for National Economic Empowerment Development (NEED) workshop held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Reports Remmy Nweke.

THE first-ever South-Eastern zonal workshop on the Information and Communications Technology for the National Economic Empowerment and Development (ICT4NEED), recently ended in Nsukka, Enugu-Enugu State, with 52 higher institutions in attendance.

ICT4NEED is the child brain of the present national executive of the Nigerian Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS). Founded as an umbrella body of all students schooling in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education nationwide, who major on computer science and related courses.

NACOSS has a two-tier administration path including registered local chapters operational in schools located in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, with the headquarters in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

Also, NACOSS is the student body of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), an umbrella association of Information Technology professionals in the country, which is on the tenth tenure.

With over 70,000 students membership nationwide, NACOSS is repositioning itself with ICT4NEED project and with its two-day workshop at the South Eastern city of Nsukka, between June 9 and 10, routes to reinvent the youthful group for the 21st century.

The workshop statistics indicated that participants were drawn from the seven higher institutions across four states in the Southeast with a total number of 484 students in attendance.

Some of these schools include the host, UNN topping the list with 374, Abia State Polytechnic - 10, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu - 30, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka - 64, Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri - 2, Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri - 3 and Federal Polytechnic Oko, Atani Campus, Anambra - 1.

Welcoming participants, the local President of NACOSS, UNN chapter, Mr. John Okeme expressed gratitude for the privilege given them to host the workshop by the national executive of the association.

Enthused National President, NACOSS, Mr. Olusegun Cyprus Olutayo, explained the significance of the workshop based on the group’s vision to enthrone skills among its members.

“It is one of our cardinal points to reinvent NACOSS in the new Nigerian project into a strong student professional body, driven by the knowledge and skills of its members that will lay the Information Technology capacity building foundation, towards sustainable development in our country and all of Africa,” he declared.

Conducting self-examination of his leadership since November last year, Mr. Olutayo, told Champion Infotel that the road towards this visionary destination has not been easy but yet fulfilling.

He said that in order to ensure enduring legacies, the leadership has conceived two-phased initiative with phase one, a tripod initiative.

These include the acquisition of current account for the association, purchasing and deployment of the web domain for the association: www.nacossnational.com, which came live on March 12, 2005 and the establishment of partnership with NACOSS patrons.

Stressing on the web domain, he said, that it was targeted at ensuring global access to the involvements, activities and events of the association, thus making NACOSS access for its members, any time and anywhere.

“Presently, work is ongoing on implementing a content management system that would act as a repository of all the documents, articles, journals and reports of major activities of the association, even as it would act as an online journal of the association,” he asserted.

For the ICT4NEED, which forms the crop of phase two, the president said, that in order to ensure that its membership are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career, a double edge strategy was unbundled.

This strategy includes the IT curriculum review in the tertiary institutions of learning and the capacity building campaign with ICT4NEED, which he noted are the current focus in this quarter.
“Leading to an entire session being dedicated to this issue at this year’s NCS conference,” he pointed.

In the opening remark, Mr. Adejube O.I., head of technical services at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), who represented the then acting Director-General, Dr. Moses Ubaru, lauded NACOSS for the initiative to put up the workshop.

He said it came at the nick of time and identified the fact that ICT is the most vital for the National Economic Empowerment for Development and Strageies (NEEDS) document of the federal government. He assured that NITDA would soon commence steps to correct the seeming obvious inadequacy of enough policy input to be reflected in the NEEDS document.


First session of the event saw Miss Onaolamipo Oladipo of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), deliberating on “Leveraging Open Source to Reduce Information Technology Capital Spending in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions,” recognized that some scarce resources in the nations universities are retarding development in this sector.

According to her, benefits of open source in cost saving and freedom of distribution are gains over the proprietary software. Thus, it could be leveraged upon to reduce the cost of capital spending in the tertiary institutions nationwide.


She further recommended Open Source as a veritable option to be deployed by the nation’s higher institutions.

President, Nigerian Information Technology Professionals in the Americas (NITPA), Prof. Manny Aniebonam, in his paper at the occasion entitled ‘Emerging Nigerian Economy, NEEDS and the Nigerian Youth,’ he led participants on the job opportunities available to them as students majoring in computer science, probably on graduation.

This includes the chance of emerging as notable programmers, network engineers, database administrators and system integrators to name a few.

According to him, there is hope for the nation based on level of what he saw at the venue, mostly if NACOSS members remain steadfast and face their studies diligently.

He stressed that the federal government’s NEEDS project is a policy embedded opportunities that are now opened for those willing to find positions in IT-driven society.

This, he said, is where the nation is heading to, especially with the support of the private sector-led initiatives, most of who are interested in bringing skills and knowledge into the country from diaspora.

He advised them to tow the path of mental renovation while working towards positive personal development, which he described as the only competence required of them. He also reminded them that the future of the nation lay in their hands.

The National Secretary General of NACOSS, Mr. Olugboji Tolulope Morayo, in a communiqué issued at the end of the workshop noted that the association is more resolved than ever towards meeting its chosen goals to ensure that the group is relevant in the scheme of things at this era.

Undoubtedly, NACOSS remains the largest assembly of the nation’s IT youths platform across all the geopolitical zones, hence this platform rather than deplete, should be encouraged in all ramifications, for a greater tomorrow based on knowledge and skill.

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