Wednesday, February 03, 2010

NITMA-09, a huge success – Ejalonibu


The chairman, Events and Publicity Committee of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Mr. TAJUDEEN A. EJALONIBU, was elected into office in Abuja, last year, during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the International Conference Centre. He told Senior Reporter, REMMY NWEKE, in this chat that Nigeria Information Technology Merit Award (NITMA) launched last quarter, recorded a huge success.
Excerpts:


How will you access the achievement of your committee so far?
Our achievement is that the landmark has expanded and our membership at NCS has expanded and everybody in the industry has come to the realization that it is no longer business as usual. Before now, the reason we were not very popular was because we, probably believed that people should know that we existed without really going out to the media, but we realized, if we do not do that it will be difficult making an in-road in the industry.

So, we extended our tentacles with the media and good enough, they are giving us the necessary cooperation and it is not a marriage with money but one of reality because there is nothing one can do today without computer application.

Today, therefore, every stakeholder knows the NCS as the professionals. The .ng project was a baby of the NCS. The current president of NCS, Prof. Charles Uwadia, has given every portfolio council member, the room to function. Hence, the issue of people coming to warm the seat, I am not saying it existed before now, but if it existed, then it is over.

Currently, if you cannot fit in you have to go, so we are constantly seeking innovative ways to improving the NCS. Of course, there are lots of events on the pipeline and you know we just finished the Nigeria IT Merit Awards (NITMA), which had been in drawing board for a long time.

What is your evaluation of the award?
It was a huge success except that those awarded were purely on IT (electronics) alone and it was an achievement on its own, but the next time, it will afford voters to use the mobile phone, readers can vote through the newspapers as well as professionals in other groups can vote.

Can you give us a general review of your activities in the last one year?
The level of awareness has increased and the desire of people becoming members has also increased. The reasons we have problem in the Niger Delta is because our government have not really explored the opportunities in IT.

If IT is developing as it should, we should be able to have on-line relationship with the politicians in the National Assembly. We want them to establish a website that will be functional, where we can relate with them and they tell us what they have been able to do in terms of development and infrastructural projects and not just digging boreholes.

There is another fully Nigerian four-year research outcome done in the UK in collaboration with NCS. We’re going to organize a workshop, and as I speak with you, the demo is already with the NCS.

That organization will be coming to our next Nigerian Information Technology Exhibition (NITTEX). There are brilliant Nigerians everywhere and there is no country you will not find them.

You spoke about the NITTEX, what are we expecting?
Nigerians should be expecting the role of IT in politicking, voting, that’s e-voting and the selection process. It is our duty to think and it is left for the government to implement.

Recall our conference on e-voting in Asaba later followed up with retreat in Kaduna, we talked about e-voting and there were a number of equipment that were demonstrated but somehow the political will was absent among the politicians. This unfortunate situation will only be for a short while as Nigerians will soon begin to demand for what they think is right.

Don’t you think that NCS should introduce a form of lobby methodology to pursue some of its aspirations to their logical conclusion?

I think it’s the same lobbying system that led to the retreat we held recently. Let me tell you the President of NCS, Prof Uwadia, does that but the thinking within NCS is that we do not shout. I know that in the no distant future, the NCS will be recognized as a professional body worth its salt. We do lobbying but if it’s not manifesting immediately it does not mean we do not do it.

On online scam:
There is no society that will not be prone to some set-backs, ill-feelings and strange behaviours. If Nigerians are involved in Online scam abroad, it means the system did not allow it to thrive, but because the system here allows it to thrive, that is why we are shouting about it. I mentioned earlier that Nigerians are excelling in the Diaspora in all spheres.

There is no need for America to stigmatize Nigerians because there are more good Nigerians there. Americans too are involved in crimes, but they do not make noise about it. It is really unfortunate that we are suffering in the midst of plenty. I also want to say that the reason these are thriving may not be unconnected with the poverty level of Nigerians here. This is why the NCS is making every effort within its reach to let people know the potentials inherent in IT.

There is problem of Nigerians only downloading and there is no effort at uploading information to project the many good qualities of the country abroad. What’s your view?

I will also put it at the doorstep of the government because Nigerians are good at everything but our poverty level is what we want government to explore. For instance in South Africa when the GSM providers first came to Nigeria, they also began to lay cable physically across the country. Now look at the fibre optical cables laid by these service providers, they are to facilitate easy transmission of large data.

This is a development in that direction. We are making progress, if you recall, when GSM came we were told that per second billing was not possible but a few days later another provider came up with per second billing, the same network that said it was not possible joined. There are developments, we making progress.

Now, what happened to the federal secretariat wing in Ikoyi, which was given to the software arm of NCS, that’s the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON)?

I do not want to hold brief for the NCS’ President, but all I know is that there is nothing anybody wants to talk about that Nigerian government is not doing sometime.

On software, this is the way I see the government solving the problem. Look at Interswitch codes if government can stop software being brought into this country, I think it will help us a great deal. I am advocating that the condition of bringing foreign software should be made very difficult so that the local ones can grow.

In Germany, for instance, when the Germans started producing stockings, it was very inferior but the government legislated against importing foreign stockings and today virtually everything good is produced in Germany. The government has the blame because they have continued to allow foreign influx of IT to thrive and dominate over the local ones.

What is your advice for Nigerians on usage of IT?

We want to encourage the Nigerian government to reduce the cost of bandwidth because it exorbitant. It is not economical to transmit large data using Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT). Fibre is the best option. If the government makes things easy for local people to thrive, there are lots of potentials in this country. Resources are their inexhaustible but our policy and government should come to the rescue. Once a policy statement comes today and is pursued to the letter you will see that the cost of making life easy for us will be so cheap.

For instance, in the university system where we come from, if we make computer application available at easy cost, rates it would improve the student-lecturer, student-management relationships and management staff interaction, you will realize that I do not need to see your face before relating with you.

In another instance, I have related with a senior person in the sales department of a telecom operator, for more than two years and we have never met in persons before. These are the benefit of the use of computer and government making internet facility readily available. The government should create the enabling environment, when this is done Nigerians are brilliant and they will take advantage of it.


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