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Editor's note: In this piece, the Editor-in-Chief of PRNigeria, Economic Confidential, Yushau Shuaib, writes about the minister of communication and digital economy, Isa Pantami, who made a surprise appearance at a book presentation of a book on digital innovation in Abuja
On August 23, 2021, a man in a black suit walked into our office at 9.30 am and introduced himself as a Protocol Officer in the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. He announced that the Minister, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami would arrive by 11.00 am.
We had sent out invite for a private book presentation in our conference room at PRNigeria Centre in Wuye District, Abuja, to the minister and the ministry's agencies.
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While aware of the fact that a Monday morning is usually hectic for Chief Executive Officers, we had moderate expectations and hoped that our guests would at least send representatives.
As we organised the sitting arrangement with the protocol officer, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa arrived, followed by other CEOs of cognate parastatals in the communications ministry.
They were Prof. Umar Danbatta - Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Prof. Muhammad Abubakar - Galaxy Backbone Limited; Dr. Abimbola Alale - Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT); Engr. Aliyu Aziz - National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); Dr. Ismail Adewusi - Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) and Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu - Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF)
Our premises became a beehive of uncommon activities. We were flabbergasted and exhilarated in equal measure by the early arrival of the minister - about a quarter to 11 am. This is unusual for an official of his calibre in Nigeria.
Before that day, the last time I met Prof. Pantami was in August 2020, when I led Economic Confidential editorial members to his office for an interview. That encounter motivated one of our staff writers, Inyene Ibanga, to develop a keen interest in covering Information Technology.
As a Mass Communication graduate, with a Master’s Degree in Public Relations, Ibanga not only started filing in reports on the sector, he wrote weekly articles on Digital Innovation, with a particular focus on NITDA activities.
By July this year, Ibanga, who edits TechDigest, had developed a remarkable portfolio of published articles on the digital economy sector and related developments in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain technology, Big Data, the Internet of Things, cybersecurity, social media, among others.
In realising the paucity of literature on IT, the parent company of our publications, Image Merchants Promotion (IMPR), the Most-Creative PR Agency Worldwide in 2020 (Statista), decided to compile Ibanga’s articles into a book titled 'Digital Innovation for Prosperity in Nigeria'.
The book comprises eight chapters of 40 well-researched and articulated subjects: “Enhancing Startups”; “Strengthening Innovative Solutions”; “Managing Data for Productivity”; “Protecting Cyber Security”; “Accessing E-Learning”, “Promoting Digital Inclusion”; “Transforming the Way of Doing Things”, and “Advancing the Digital Economy.”
Analogous issues and areas mediated upon in the book include elucidations on the smart city, smart campuses, digital transformation, disruptive technology, e-commerce, e-learning, e-tourism, fact-checking, the Industrial Internet of Things, virtual reality, augmented reality, e-voting, among others.
We were delighted, at the compilation stage of the book, when the minister accepted to write the foreword. And, in his recommendation, the erudite scholar and professor of cybersecurity noted that the “book will help expose its readers to the benefits of digital innovation and digital economy."
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As earlier mentioned, with the arrival of the minister, the programme started with a welcome address by the chairman of IMPR Board, Dr. Sule Yau Sule, who hailed the rapid development of the digital economy in Nigeria, with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) being the fastest-growing sector of the economy.
DG Inuwa, who was celebrated at the occasion for clocking two years in the saddle, expressed excitement that the well-thought-out policies, initiatives and promotion of digital innovation, as engineered by the minister are yielding huge positive results.
As I reviewed the book, I informed our August visitors that the compendium explores ways in which Nigeria does not get left behind in IT deployment for solutions to economic challenges. The book also examines the roles of regulatory bodies, especially NITDA, in IT promotion through the development of frameworks, standards, guidelines, regulations, and policies.
As the Special Guest of Honour, Prof. Pantami commended IMPR for constructive engagements and coverage of various sectors.
“The publications of IMPR, especially PRNigeria, Economic Confidential and TechDigest, have demonstrated the quality of evidence-based journalism."
On the book, the minister noted the author, Ibanga, highlighted how digital innovation led to surging economic prosperity in Nigeria, within the framework of the Ministry of Communications' key initiatives endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister urged Nigerians to develop the habit of reading. He said readers are leaders, adding that global figures are people who spend quality time reading.
Speaking on behalf of other CEOs, Prof. Danbatta praised the author and the publisher for the compendium on ICT in Nigeria, with special reference to the significant milestones attained by NITDA.
Yusuf Alli, an IMPR Director commended the synergy among the agencies' heads and lauded Prof. Pantami for his leadership. The award-winning investigative editor advised other ministries and agencies to learn from their humility, brilliance, intellection, and high senses of responsibility.