The Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR) has commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the nomination of renowned tech expert, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, as minister.
Tunji-Ojo, a lawmaker from the Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, is among the first batch of 28 ministerial nominees whose names were read out by Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, during plenary on Thursday.
The NADIR, a formidable network of digital-savvy editors, publishers and other practitioners and registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in a statement by it Executive Director, Dahiru Lawal said that President Tinubu’s choice of Tunji-Ojo shows his desire to put round pegs in round holes as part of measures to advance the country’s digital economy.
“Born in 1982, Tunji-Ojo studied Electronics and Communication Engineering at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) and graduated in 2005. He obtained a master’s degree in Digital Communication and Networking from the same institution in 2006.
“He holds certifications in eighteen professional qualifications in ICT including the prestigious title of being one of the first set of certified ethical hackers from Royal Britannia IT Training Academy in the United Kingdom before he turned 24 years.
“NADIR is therefore not only proud of Tunji-Ojo’s achievements in the global digital space, we are also grateful to Mr President for finding one of Nigeria’s best youngsters worthy of appointment into his cabinet,” the statement read in part.
The Network described his nomination as a testament to President Tinubu’s commitment to choose the best for Nigeria on the basis of competence, merit and pedigree, and not ethno-relugious sentiments.
“It is on this note that we condemn the call by Computer Guild of Nigeria (CGN) that the next Minister of Communication and Digital Economy must be a Christian.
“We condemn in totality the resort to religious propaganda by a group of political jobbers who are seeking to blackmail the Tinubu administration to do their narrow and selfish bidding.
“Religion should never serve as a criterion for appointing individuals into offices and we find it shocking that rabble rousers and religious bigots choose to push through their divisive agenda under a name that should naturally evoke professionalism and decency.
“Even more ridiculous is the claim by the CGN that Nigerian Christians have a huge number of competent hands that can take the Communications Ministry to greater heights. Who told them that Nigerian Muslims, traditional worshippers, free thinkers and aethists do not also have some of the best brains among them who can fit perfectly as Minister in the Communications Ministry?
“We are surprised that groups of political hustlers who campaigned vigorously against the election of President Tinubu are now seeking to blackmail the President to do their bidding.
The NADIR similarly condemned the call by a similar group for the removal of the ‘hardworking’ Director-General of the National Information Technological Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa.
The group argued that NITDA’s contributions to the global tech space have been commendable under the guidance of Inuwa as the agency’s strides in promoting technological innovation and digitalisation have been remarkable.
According to the Network, interrupting the progress being made by NITDA at the moment will not serve the interest of the country’s digital economy.
The Network mentioned the achievements of NITDA under Inuwa as follows:
“In 2021, the NITDA under Inuwa unveiled its Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021 – 2024), which is anchored on seven strategic pillars to support the achievement of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) objectives. The ongoing implementation of the 64 strategic initiatives of SRAP has significantly contributed to the impact of ICT on the economy. In addition, the Agency’s strategic engagement with critical stakeholders in the ecosystem and implementation of the SRAP initiatives have made Nigeria the leading destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to startups in Africa, attracting about US$3.8billion which constitutes about 35% of all FDI into African startups from 2019.
“Through the Agency’s implementation of strategic initiatives and interventions, many jobs were created for Nigerians. For instance, the Agency set up the Tech4COVID Committee, which developed strategies to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative led to the retention of over 100,000 ICT jobs and created additional 30,000 jobs in the post-COVID-19 era. Similarly, the NDPR compliance drive created 7,680 jobs and a market valued at ₦1.2 billion.
“Furthermore, the implementation of the Agency’s National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) initiative has thus far engaged nine hundred (900) farmers and created over five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs. The initiative targets the engagement of ten (10) million farmers across the agricultural value chain by 2030. The Agency developed the National Outsourcing Strategy to deliver one (1) million jobs by 2025, contributing to the employment of 16,540 Nigerians. The Business Process Outsourcing market is estimated at US$286.8 million, as reported by Africa Global Business Services (GBS).
“To promote emerging technologies in Nigeria, the Agency under Inuwa established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR). The NCAIR has trained 1,250 youths across Nigeria on high-end cutting-edge technologies. The Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) was created as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to help incubate ideas and develop an enabling environment for startups to thrive.
“Through the ONDI, the Agency supported 143 startups through; Facilitation of ₦50 million grant each to 6 startups’; Facilitation of US$15,000 each to 3 startups; Seed funding support to 12 startups; Sponsorship of 51 startups to GITEX global event, LEAP Tech Conference, Intra-African Trade Fair, and 40 Nigerian startups to local events; Acceleration of 30 startups through the Bridge to MassChallenge (B2MC) Nigeria programme; Incubation of 16 startups through the iHatch Incubation programme; Training of 20 startups through the North-East Start-up Training (NEST) programme; Training of 74 innovators to build viable tech businesses through the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme; Acceleration of 3 Nigerian startups through the NINJA Acceleration Programme in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); and Training of 300 secondary school students on digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
“In terms of digital talent development, Inuwa’s NITDA has committed to the conduct of an IT Talent Gap Assessment among Nigeria’s youth population for tech talent acceleration and position Nigeria as a global IT Talent Factory. In line with the FG’s initiative on social investment, the Agency launched the one (1) million software developer initiative, and thus far, 215,524 Nigerians have completed or are undergoing related capacity-building programmes. In addition, various multi-sectorial capacity-building programmes were launched to promote digital literacy, and 823,814 Nigerians have been trained so far.”
The Network urged the President to ignore the call for Inuwa’s removal from office.
“Yet, this is the same action man some unpatriotic elements want President Tinubu to remove from office.
“There has to be a limit to political charlatanism. We are calling on President Tinubu to ignore these group of individuals who do not mean well for his administration and Nigeria in general,” the statement concluded.