Government should engage IT practitioners to address national challenges

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Prof.-David-Adewumi-President-of-the-Nigeria-Computer-Society-NCSThe President of the Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. David Adewumi shares with IT Edge News, Martin Ekpeke,  his perspectives on why IT professionals constitute a significant force in nation building and what this year’s national conference of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) mean to national IT goals.

Can you give us a brief overview of your tenure as the President of the Nigeria Computer Society?

Within the period I have been in charge of the Nigeria Computer Society, there has been some measurable success. One of the areas we have recorded some success is transportation; we have been able to get two buses donated by members to the association. One was donated by Zinox, while the other was donated by Computer Warehouse Group. We have been able to improve our membership across the country. The other area that bothers me is the national conference, we are not represented there. We made a lot of issue that our society would have been represented there. But one thing with our government is that, they have not really seen the need to buy into IT development as is the case in other parts of the world. Today. IT is taking a very major space in the world economy in every sphere of human endeavours and we cannot afford to be left out. I heard this morning that the senate has approved the e-voting, and with the approval of the e-voting that means that there is no way that INEC can shy away from fully going into co-operation with NCS. Now that they have started, we are trying to run a training programme for them, and we have done everything we are supposed to do on our own side. We are waiting for them. Having said this, we have also been forward looking in the area of handling workshops. We have run one which is Research and Development at Obafemi Awolowo University. Another one: Applied Factors of Computing is to hold in August this year. Then, there is the one we are proposing to the government that focuses on security challenges.  


You accused government of not buying into IT, what do you think is responsible for this and how can we address this issue?

Government itself has not yet appreciated the effect of buying into IT. By the time this e-voting comes on board, they would be able to appreciate the need for IT. One other reason why I feel they are not buying into IT is the non-representation of the IT community at the national conference.  None of the members of the IT community was invited, including NCS and CPN. Our thinking is that if government knew the enormity of progress IT would bring to the country, they wouldn’t have done that.  


What should Nigerians expect from this year’s NCS national conference?

The topic of this year’s conference is ‘Creating a Knowledge Based Economy- the role of IT. The issues are very clear. The fact is that black nations were sleeping during the industrial revolution. We are lucky that we have people who are gingering us up now, but in case we don’t follow this to a logical conclusion, what we are going to lose will be more than what we lost during the industrial revolution. So, if IT is not given its vital place, then our expectation is dashed. This conference is addressing the knowledge base economy which is also a major aspect of what IT has been able to achieve over the years globally. I would not say the same thing is true of the African nations because of our lack of infrastructural development and human capacity development. Those are areas where the African nations have not been able to do much. Apart from the capacity development in IT and that of the African youth, we don’t have enough jobs and training. So, this is why when you talk of security challenges in Nigeria, you begin to think that if everybody is occupied or employed, the problem would have been reduced. Am not saying that it will stamp it out totally but it would have reduced it to a reasonable extent.  


How does NCS encourage young Nigerians embracing IT, what are the benefits when they join NCS?

We have the NACOSS, which is our youth wing; it is present in all higher institutions and membership is largely driven among students. We also have schools for our developing youths outside NACOSS, which they have opportunities to join at the zonal level. But what will they get when they come in? They will be exposed to the up to date happenings within the IT community, and in terms of capacity development for them, we are involved. We have a lot of youth based programme and we work closely with a number of our groups and they are coming up now, even the security group. We have a lot of groups like ITAN, ISPON and quite a number of them. When they join all these groups, we are sure they will get the right exposure.   


How does NCS intend to implement the communiqués that will come up at the conference?

One of the strategies we have in place now is that we will be meeting with our stakeholders especially the government. We also want to engage government at the highest level. Our plan is that the next three months after our conference, we want to engage Mr. President to let him know all this things frontally. We will tell him the effect IT will have on the government and the Nigerian people. Another is the Boko Haram insurgence, if Nigeria had placed IT at the front burner, we would have had the entire communication gadget placed within the nation such that any movement, whether usual or unusual will be recorded. We want to also make sure that we engage our youths to let them know that they have to follow up on all the things that we have done to improve their awareness of IT as an association.  


The National Assembly has accused ICT practitioners of not coming up with solutions that would help in reducing security challenges in the country. How do you react to that?

My reaction is simple. Find out from them. How many bills have been passed in making Nigeria an IT based economy? Even the cyber security bill has not been passed. There is quite a number of things that have not yet been done. But one thing I know is that IT professionals have been trying to engage government which we have found a little difficult. The IT Companies have been doing a lot on their own. The government has not been supportive enough.  


How would you relate your experience at NiDICT to the Nigerian IT environment?

My experience at NiDict was wonderful. Professionals from all over the world came and we were able to interact at the level of IT globally. Nigerians in diaspora with high IT skill were in attendance and we were able to share and articulate on some vital issues for Nigeria’s development in terms of IT. The experience was that good. The only regret is that we were not able to have our members to attend in large numbers as should be the case as NiDICT coincides with the required planning for the NCS national conference, which means many of our members were not able to travel out.


‘One thing with our government is that, they have not really seen the need to buy into IT development as is the case in other parts of the world. IT is taking a very major space in the world economy in every sphere of human endeavours and we cannot afford to be left out’

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