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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

ATCON spoils for war with NITDA boss

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) may be spoiling for war with the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye over his recent comment on political will as a retarding factor for his agency’s ineptitude.

ATCON also said that the use of lack of a political will as an excuse to hide poor performance is not acceptable.

ATCON president, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, while reacting to the comment credited to Prof. Angaye on ‘Why ICT is not growing,” where Angaye was quoted as saying that inadequate political will power, insufficient support ICT infrastructure and skill human power were the bane of Nigeria’s e-readiness, noted the need to draw a line between performance and culpability.

But recalling that lawfully based on NITDA Act of May 2007, Angaye’s agency is empowered to receive and use the National Information Technology Development Fund Levy (NITDF) to promote the development of information technology in the country to make the difference, ATCON leadership, was not contented with Angaye’s excuses using lack of political will for the lack of performance by his agency.

According to ATCON’s Omo-Ettu, an integral and sometimes unhealthy part of discourse has been the incessant carping about the failures and inadequacies of the political and socio-economic system, stressing that whilst there is some merit in such arguments, saying it’s disgusting to hear a political office holder blaming the state of affairs and is disturbing when it comes from supposed highly trained professionals, even as some of these officer got their training at the nation’s expense and, sometimes, are put in a position of implementing reform, yet they fail to deliver.

“It leaves us in a state of apoplexy but it is particularly galling when those who have the opportunity to change the system churn out the same old tired reasons of claiming ‘lack of funding’ or ‘lack of political will’ as reasons for poor performance,” he said in a press statement entitled “NITDA: Straddling the line between performance and culpability.”

Omo-Ettu also cited the comment attributed to Prof. Cleopas Angaye, on why Nigeria has had low success in ICT to ignorance on the part of the leaders and lack of political will as responsible for the poor state of affairs in ICT development of the country.

“The timing and indeed the inaccuracy of this interjection, at a time when our march towards creating a true ICT industry out of the present fledging telecom, broadcasting and computer industries is already playing in injury time, should attract our collective gaze at the performance of the Professor in allowing if not bringing about this precarious situation,” ATCON bemoaned.

For ATCON, if Prof. Angaye’s argument is anything to go by, given that he took office almost five years ago then it is certainly the case that Nigeria had fallen in its global competitiveness rating under his watch.

This, he insisted, indicates at best, the ineffectiveness and at worse incompetence of NITDA under his watch.

“Either way, the industry and indeed the nation can ill afford it. A bad situation is made infinitely worse by the Professor’s disingenuous assertions of a lack of political will as there are few things that better express a political will than the government’s approval of a recommendation of establishment of NITDA as an agency to implement the prescriptions of the National Information Technology Policy as postulated by its professional class and installing an eminent scholar of his ilk as its executive head,” he observed.

Arguing that in reality, Prof Angaye’s position is a clear abdication of responsibility, which obviously places the responsibilities on his lap.

“It is about time that he accepted the unambiguous truth that he does and should bear responsibility for the diminution in our global competitiveness rating, the failure to provide the necessary awareness platform for mass education as enshrined in NITDA’s mandate, and should it be the case, the political will which should see us further than we are now,’ Omo-Ettu said.

Pointing out that no one is better placed to engineer the necessary reforms in the aforementioned realms than the head of NITDA. Just as he maintained that the DG, in his official role, must accept that the buck stops with him and the use of the excuse of lack of a political will as a fig leaf to hide poor performance is no acceptable.

“His utterances are really an own goal as they beg the following questions,” he said, wondering how Angaye would define the performance of an organization which is dwindling and what he would say of the head of such an organization if they had been at the helm for four years?

“And would he recommend that organization stick or twist with such a head?” he asked, advising him to recognize the fact that carping is easy especially if you have no responsibility to effect change, insisting that when you do have such responsibility, action is what is required.

ATCON president emphasised that there are risks and costs to a programme of action but they are far less than the risks and costs of comfortable inaction for not only does it flag up his own failings, it belittles the collective action of those who, against all odds, have got the nation where it is today.

“However a simpler and more important lesson is to understand that those in glass houses should not go about throwing stones,” ATCON boss counseled, explaining that if the likes of ATCON refuse to react to this bothersome underestimation of the collective mood, people like Prof. Angaye would think majority of the industry experts are merely idiots.

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