" ITREALMS: Telecoms Clinic - Nigeria: Who is in-charge of innovation asks by Remmy Nweke

Monday, June 03, 2024

Telecoms Clinic - Nigeria: Who is in-charge of innovation asks by Remmy Nweke

TelecomsClinic@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!
In this piece, REMMY NWEKE asks who is in charge of innovation in Nigeria as the current leadership marks 365 days in office?

As Nigeria marks the 25 years of returning to democracy and one year anniversary of Bola Tinubu led All Progressive Congress (APC) Federal Government, one question kept coming up, that is who is in-charge of innovation management in this country.
Telecoms Clinic - Nigeria: Who is in-charge of innovation! by Remmy Nweke
Innovation management has been defined as involving the process of managing an organization's or country innovation procedure, starting from the initial stage of ideation, to the final stage of successful implementation. This, experts at the International Organization for Standardization said encompasses the decisions, activities and practices of devising and implementing an innovation strategy.

Innovation itself, according to the ISO-technical committee (ISO TC 279), is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services, which they posited innovation as "a new or changed entity, realizing or redistributing value."

Innovation and ISO:

ITREALMS recalled that ISO/TC 279 is a technical committee with key function to develop, maintain and promote standards in the field of innovation management. The ISO-TC created since 2013 is currently chaired by Mr. Johan Claire until December 2024, while Mme Petra Sevcikova as committee manager, Ms Monica Ibido as Technical Programme Manager (TPM), and Ms Nicola Perou as Editorial Manager (EM), whereas the TC scope comprised “standardization of terminology tools and methods and interactions between relevant parties to enable innovation.” This committee makes contributions to some 12 standards to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A look at the Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies (FMDAs) narrow down to two federal ministries, namely the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI), which has that name long before the recent Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy (FMIDE), when Dr. Bosun Tijani took over last year August.

Who is in-charge of innovation in Nigeria?
For instance, the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) is the Nigerian ministry whose mission is to facilitate the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance the pace of socio-economic development of the country through appropriate technological inputs into productive activities in the nation.

Agencies under FMSTI include the National Office For Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) Abuja, Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) Lagos, National Space Research & Development Agency (NARSDA) Abuja; and Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) also in Abuja.

FMSTI until the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari was simply Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, consequently, the ‘Innovation’ was added by PMB administration in the ministry led by late Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.

Buhari’s approval for the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to "Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation” ITREALMS gathered, was proclaimed in order to address the missing link in the statutory mandate of the Ministry as it drives the ‘Innovation Agenda’ of the country among others.

This is not withstanding that President Olusegun Obasanjo had in about 2006 set up a Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations which was led then by Permanent Secretary FMST.


On the other hand, the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy in Nigeria is a government ministry responsible for overseeing the development, implementation, and regulation of policies related to communications, [innovation], and digital economy sectors within the country.

The mandate of FMCIDE since 2011, ITREALMS gathered has remained to “accelerate the diversification of the Nigerian economy by enhancing productivity in critical sectors” and does not need to have innovation embedded to innovate, despite daily innovation.

Though Tijani, prides himself as a forward-thinking leader, with a relentless commitment to innovation, it should have been noble to stick to the core mandate of his ministry. His incursion into the ‘innovation trend’ is usurping the equation and creating some kind of squabbles between the two federal ministries.

Tijani and innovation buzz:
An instance is that while, Tijani, given his background coming from the social-enterprise industry where innovation buzz is high, tend to leverage every opportunity to show his passion for innovation and a profound belief in the potentials of technologies, without due process and implications to his ministry.

The managers of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, under the leadership of Chief Uche Nnaji, are trying assiduously to lay claim to ‘innovation’ management in the country, which has led them to even changing the name of the Ministry either by omission or commission to “Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology (FMIST).”

As of the time of filing this report, there is no official existence of “Innovation, Science, and Technology (FMIST) “instead of Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI), known to industry watchers, likewise the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy (FMCIDE) instead of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE).

This duplication and unclear direction, has left stakeholders confused for so long since the coming of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to power with alleged technical glitches from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Addressing the INEC technical glitches of 2023, should form bases of any innovation management of this current administration.

Also, this duplication and unseen squabble to be entitled ‘innovation’ by these Federal Ministries, will discourage Foreign Direct Investors (FDIs) as they will be caught in between the two in case of policy summersault. God helping any investor who deals with the wrong Ministry only to be told that your papers or processes are invalid.

The Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHSF) under the supervision of Dr Folasade Omolara Yemi-Esan, have some works to do here by calling these two Ministers and Ministries to order before it gets too late and advice them on appropriate steps towards changing of any Ministry name.

If not done already, this, also calls for joint-retreat between Ministers and senior ministerial cadre like the Permanent Secretaries and directors on rules of engagement and procedures as often as possible, as its very obvious these two ministries names were inadvertently changed without any approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC), thereby bringing us back to the question, ‘who is in charge of innovation in Nigeria?’

Its unhealthy competition for two Federal Ministries to lay claim to managing ‘Innovation’ under one administration. Change of any Ministry name needs to undergo some steps including stakeholder buy-in and presentation of memos to FEC on its justification and not just a political fiat kind of thing. Not minding the cost of unholy rebranding, which could be changed by any forthcoming Ministers if not tamed now.

Additionally, as a country, does Nigeria have innovation strategy that is known to the populace?

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