By Uwa Suleiman
There is a global conformity in leadership circles to assess the achievements of decision makers using a hundred days as the yardstick. Perhaps, the timeline is based on allowing enough time for political office holders to “settle in” and establish a few quick wins. In Nigeria particularly, it is mostly regarded as a “celebration of 100 days in office” characterised by newspaper advertorials replete with prayers and congratulatory messages. But like everything else, the times are changing. An effective, impactful, innovative and robust pattern of leadership with zero tolerance for down time is emerging and leading the charge: he is the Honourable Minister of Communications; the proactive, pragmatic, tirelessly hardworking, intelligent Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).
Dr Pantami was sworn into office as a federal minister on August 21st 2019 and he literally hit the ground running. Without compulsion, theatrics or grandiose theoretic, the trail blazer is changing the narrative. He has achieved so much in just forty days, we are confronted with possibilities that cannot be put off for another sixty. On Saturday, September 28th 2019, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and InstinctWave deservedly honoured him as the IT Man of the Year at the annual Nigeria Technology Innovation and Telecommunications Award, an event with a reputation of being the Oscars of IT in Nigeria. Coincidentally, he was in faraway Turkey on a national assignment – the e-government Summit where he brokered a strategic win for Nigeria, and could not attend in person. He delegated a worthy representative, the Managing Director of Nigeria Communications Satelite (NIGCOMSAT) Dr. Abimbola Alale who stood in excellently.
Some critics may argue that the award, though well merited, is based on his performance as the immediate past Director General of NITDA where he established transformation in unprecedented proportions. I however, believe that Dr Pantami has already set a record – shattering standard, in his present capacity in just forty days to earn his status as IT MAN OF THE YEAR.
Right from the maiden press conference he held on assumption of office, his directives to Agencies and Parastatals under his supervision were clear, precise and in accordance with their various mandates. There was no ambiguity. Direct, impactful actionable instructions. The strategic thinker had done his homework, he came prepared. His in depth knowledge and understanding of the sector immediately reflected in his action plan. As a man who keeps his promises and lives by a strict moral code of completing any task he sets upon, never leaving anything to chance, he has consistently supported and encouraged his able team of CEOs in accomplishing set objectives and this exemplary leadership has brought about the following achievements in the last forty days:
An unprecedented, solid foundation for security enhancement by ordering the deactivation of all improperly registered SIM cards in the country. It is no news that 90% of cybercrimes (mostly financial), committed in Nigeria today, are carried out using improperly registered SIM cards because, they are almost impossible to trace. He immediately issued a directive to the Telecommunications regulator NCC in that regard. A large percentage of Nigerians initially doubted it could be done, but they failed to reckon with the force called Pantami. He followed up on it and by Wednesday, September 25th 2019 deadline, the order was in full effect. All improperly registered SIM cards are at the moment disabled and are no longer in use. The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) reports a figure of 2.2 million in that category! The security advantage of this achievement is already gaining momentum and will be sustained. There is a security apparatus in place to trace any registered SIM card used for criminal purposed within an hour.
As a computer scientist and unapologetic technology advocate, Pantami knows that the use of technology in crime can only be countered in the same deadly measure by deploying superior technology against it. The establishment of the country’s first Emergency Communication Centre in Katsina State on September 23rd 2019 assures Pantami’s place in history as a practical problem solver. A man who abhors empty talk, his actions speak for him. The ECCs will be established in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT with a 24/7 manned response toll free number 112. This is a first of its kind initiative beneficial to all Nigerians regardless of ethnic, religious or social status. It is leveraging on technology to ensure the safety of lives and property of citizens at its best! In one fell swoop, Pantami has created jobs, bridged the digital divide in the area of security between Nigeria and the developed world and given hope to the ordinary Nigerian that government for the people is a reality.
“Pantami has created jobs, bridged the digital divide in the area of security between Nigeria and the developed world and given hope to the ordinary Nigerian that government for the people is a reality.”
Having initiated and secured the ISO certification ISO 27001;2013 for the National Information Technology Development Agency as then Director General, the Honourable Minister of Communications again read the riot Act to all Parastatals under his purview. He has directed that by 2020, they must be ISO Certified. It will be done because the processes have begun in earnest. I can guarantee that in the nearest future, the entire civil service will be falling over themselves to be ISO Certified. Wait for it! To be ISO certified means an organization has met the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System and is focused on service delivery with customer satisfaction as the main objective. Now, just imagine for a moment a Nigerian Civil Service that is ISO Certified!
I have always maintained that there is no other public personality who exemplifies the spirit of national unity better than Dr Isa and this truth continues to manifest in diverse ways on a daily basis. This is a man whose mentality is so patriotic he is not limited by the petty borders of selfishness. He believes in the noble cause of national development in its entirety. A phenomenal team player who is not enticed by personal praise or gain, he remains the one public servant who will pursue a common goal outside his comfort zone without selfish motives. On September 16th 2019, Pantami wrote to the Honourable Minister of Woks and Hosing Dr Babatunde Raji Fashola imploring him to use his good offices to intervene speedily in addressing the deplorable state of some major road networks in the country.
Dr Pantami is not the Minister of Works but he recognises his authority as an influencer and characteristically, he uses his influence for the benefit of all. The economic implication of this request which I am positive will be favourably considered, is not lost on the farmer, the business men and women, the road users in general who have to navigate through triple the normal challenges of getting their goods and services across Nigeria. Security challenges of armed robbery and banditry, loss of lives through vehicle accidents and the total inability of certain services reaching rural areas aided by bad road infrastructure will also be addressed.
Three days later on September 19th 2019, he penned a similar letter to his colleague in Agriculture requesting the inclusion of Gombe, his home state in agricultural interventions citing their proven skill and prowess in that field. This is selfless leadership and how to get things done. Watch and learn.
As a Minister with federal might, he has taken his resilient drive for national development across borders. His commitment to putting Nigeria on the global map is legendary and he pursues his mandate with relentless zeal. On Friday September 20th 2019, he led the Nigerian delegation to a meeting with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) Team, organisers of the Global Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) to canvass for greater visibility for indigenous start ups, better opportunities for exhibitors, strategic networking windows for policy makers and a speaking slot on the global stage for Nigeria.
“[Pantami] has directed that by 2020, [all agencies under his ministry] must be ISO Certified. It will be done because the processes have begun in earnest. I can guarantee that in the nearest future, the entire civil service will be falling over themselves to be ISO Certified.”
September 26th 2019, the enigmatic minister arrived Geneva, Switzerland to formally give national consent, to a global resolution of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) at its third Extraordinary Congress. This means Nigeria as a member nation will comply with International Renumeration Rates, uphold the rules for international mail exchanges, stimulate growth in mail, parcel and financial services as well as improve service delivery.
The very next day September 27th 2019, the indefatigable ambassador of change was in Ankara, Turkey leading a delegation of diplomats and industry regulators to an international partnership in the areas of Capacity Building (specifically scholarships for indigent students), e-Government development and broadband penetration, National Information Security System Platform for SIM and Mobile Registration using Digital Identity and Cybersecurity.
This is a worthy ambassador of Nigeria whose intents, words and actions are committed to the pursuit and attainment of nationalistic goals. He is deliberate in everything. Dr Pantami’s every action is strategically keyed into the President’s three point Agenda;
His loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Vision and Mission can be summed up in his own words “The vision with mission of President Muhammadu Buhari is our only vision and mission. We are in office to ensure that the President’s Agenda for national security, anti-corruption war and rapid economic development succeeds. We as public officers have no other goal. We are not interested in individual success, our concern is the collective success of Nigeria as a nation and the prosperity and safety of all Nigerians”.
When I wrote in a previous article that “he will disrupt the norm…he will blaze the trail….the sector that gets him is the luckiest”, it was a statement backed by the trusted, guaranteed integrity and credibility of a God fearing, truly patriotic Nigerian. The IT MAN OF THE YEAR award has been earned . Congratulations are in order.
On behalf of the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Communications, the entire Management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Communications and indeed the entire ICT Ecosystem in Nigeria, Congratulations to our boss, the headmaster of technology in Nigeria, the unifier, the enabler and symbol of change, problem solver and Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM MCPN.
Uwa Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications.