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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Omo-Ettu tasks Akunyili on ministerial reforms

Telecommunications expert and chief executive officer, The Executive Cyberschuul (TEC) Lagos, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu has tasked the new administration of Prof. (Mrs) Dora Akunyili, in the ministry of Information and Communications reforms of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector.

One of the key subjects of the proposed reform has been the Ministry of ICT.
Proposing agenda for the new Information and Communications Minister, Mr. Omo-Ettu, said that stakeholders expect her to throw more lights on the position of the government, which he described as the “unfinished business of industry restructuring of technology.”

According to him, government under the leadership of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has taken nonchallant posture as far as this restructuring is concerned, which commenced during the immediate administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and precisely in 2006 with a Committee established to that effect.

“There is unfinished business of industry restructuring of technology, information and communications apparatus of government; roadmap to achieve improved quality of service in the telephone system; and strategies for upgrading broadband access to Nigerians,” he said.

While enjoining the nation’s ICT media practitioners to ensure they represent the populace by keeping the new leadership in the ministry on its toe, Omo-Ettu noted that several questions are begging for answers and if they fail to live up to expectation, it could be swept under the carpet, which have been the hallmark since Yar’Adua’s administration.

Mr. Omo-Ettu recalled that government in 2006 commenced a desire to restructure the information and communications industries when it set up a Committee to examine the wherewithal of a converged industry.

Restructuring of the ministry in its present state, he said, goes beyond mere change of name, lamenting that though the government after setting up the committee to this effect surprisingly went on to create the nomenclature called Ministry of Information and Communications.

“It however impulsively went ahead to create the Ministry of Information and Communications ahead of the work of the Committee only to realize that restructuring in a true sense was more than mere name-changing and merging of
Ministerial portfolios,” he said.

The telecom expert pointed out that the Committee completed its work and advised government on the amount of work required to effect a true change that will take advantage of the march of science and technology in the years ahead, he found it irresponsible for that process to still be in the coolers after about two years since the committee was inaugurated.

“Work has since stalled on the project and the Yar’ Adua government, since take-over in 2007, has operated as if the issue never mattered,” he decried, stressing that stakeholders may spoil for war with the Yar’Adua’s administration as this current position is not acceptable.

“We should not accept this posture and we must call government to account,” he asserted.

ITRealms Online recollects that proponents of a restructured industry had argued that because of the radical changes that the like of Internet and indeed Internet Protocol (IP) has introduced into the polity, insisting that it must be contentious if not totally difficult to determine what is telecommunications, broadcasting, technologies and services, especially in distinguishing between where one stops and the other commences.

This, a school of thought said, would provide a clear view and sharp industry management that could translate to enhanced smooth management, thereby reducing cost of doing business and ultimately cost of service provision.

Conversely, they argued that a continuous application of legacy systems and management of new systems using the old methods will create confusion, duplicity, legal entanglements, increase cost of doing business and ultimately impose severe cost on consumers.

“Those who are opposed to change argue issues which surround who gains what and who losses what. They talk about persons when the argument is about issues and they particularly make otherwise healthy debates to become unexciting. These are usually enough to confuse a government that has no view of its own,” he warned.

Emphasizing that government’s mandate is to resolve these issues or to quit if it lacks the interest or will to apply emerging technologies into governance, which is why government cannot be allowed to do nothing.

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