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What If Tsunami Buhari ‘Swallows’ Shittu

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Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications

Our Christian brethren are ‘merrying’, and in a few days time, year 2016 and its attendant brouhaha will wind down, giving way for fresh impetuses, aspirations and gazes on new horizons. As expected, there will be hang/hand over between the outgoing year and 2017.

However, I am particular about having a more enthused and verile Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry that is not resting on its past glories.

Among many expectations, it seems President Muhammadu Buhari will align with supposed popular thinking that his cabinet should be reshuffled. That is where I beg we cull the subject of today's piece.

Vanguard Newspaper on Monday, December 19, 2016 on its Facebook wall conducted a brief survey, asking Nigerians to list ten Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria they believe should lose their seats should Mr. President decide to reshuffle his cabinet in the coming year. Going through the posts our industry's, (Information) Communications (Technology) Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu appears to be ‘in safe’ hands as his name was missing. But, what if PMB’s ‘Broom-Tsunami’ still sweeps away the Minister, who recently fought some witty battles such as struggling to push the idea that the proposed communications tax is one of the best strategies to overcoming the present economic realities - a point of view many Nigerians including yours truly have refused to buy. So, what if the President decides to relieve Shittu of his post or move him to another ministry, how should the industry then proceed?

Obviously, something is still lacking in our polity- where a successor finds it difficult to build on the foundation developed by the predecessor. In other words, whoever takes over the mantle would start ‘all-over’, searching for stakeholders to submit documents and help in drafting ‘new policies; by then Shittu’s ‘brilliant’ ideas and policy thrust would have been archived and not really/fully gazette(d) like that of his predecessor Dr. Omobola Johnson, the erstwhile Minister of Communications Technology.

The losers are not the politicians who find it not too odd to stir controversies that will rattle new ‘office’ occupants. By then, they stay aloof, enjoying their ‘game’. Therefore, the losers are the organized private sector who need to rewind the rat-race of paying homage, redrafting memos with attached costs; all to please a new chip off of the old block’.

But, even when the new appointee genuinely seeks for advice, he ends up harvesting half-baked and gibberish contents that compound issues or standing the truth on the head.

Nevertheless, Barrister Shittu might still survive the cabinet reshuffle, thereby retaining his post. Whatever happens we still need to talk about the various issues affecting the industry. There are a lot of things happening in the industry that require stakeholders to converge at a round table with policy makers in search of solutions. First the telecommunications companies are bleeding. How they performed the magic of ensuring the Christmas season wasn’t marred by poor quality of service (QoS) calls for commendation.

Apparently, the operators are not expanding, at least, not at the expected speed, particularly since the time dollar scarcity hit the economy. If airlines, banks, manufacturing and agricultural sectors are receiving Government’s special attention, I think the IT & telecoms industry deserves that or at the very least have good policies to stimulate and protect this all-important industry. It is a big business enabler; providing required blood that flow in the veins of almost every other sector.

My guest on this week's edition of Tech Trends on Channels Television is the GMD of IPNX, Ejovi Aror, and I asked him a few questions about the industry in general and found some of his responses quite intriguing. For him, the industry still needs a lot of investments to grow, espcially to effectively advance in the area of 4G LTE but the required investments won't come, if there is uncertainty in the economy. One take away from my chat with him is that the industry has a lot of potentials but also has serious challenges. This is why I am of the opinion that players and enthusiasts must keep brainstorming on the way forward. You may see the full interview by visiting http://www.CFA.ng/tv

On the flip side, it was recently reported that about 80% of the Value Added Service (VAS) licencees operating today are near extinction. The culprits are the telcos who have not been able to fulfil their obligations to these service providers. So, should we fold our hands and allow these companies collapse; a situation that will warrant FDIs and jobs losses? Why are the telcos not servicing their creditors, in this case, the VAS operators?

Now you see my point, there is certainly a lot to talk about, this is why ‘Think Breakfast Series (tBs)’ has been established and it comes up on 25th of January, 2017 by 8am at the Prime Chinese Restaurant, Plot 860 Bishop Aboyade Cole Street Victoria Island, Lagos.

tBs is a strategic initiative put together by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and CFAtech.ng which is aimed at bringing industry experts together to brainstorm and discuss the biggest trends and issues impacting the industry. The organisers believe that Nigeria has a plethora of challenges that must be solved if she must be a great nation indeed and tBS would serve as a platform to assist Nigeria in achieving the greatness it deserves within the comity of nations.

The tBs is a gathering of 30 passionate executives, decision makers and thought leaders who have the capacity to proffer solutions to issues affecting their industry and Nigeria through a brainstorming session done over breakfast.

This event is strictly by invitation because quality participation and deliberations are compulsory, so if you are a top executive and would like to to join other key decisions makers in the first series of tBs, register @ http://tbs.com.ng/tbs-registration/ and also contact us if you would like to partner the tBs team.

tBS will no doubt be a gathering of great minds with solutions that can transform the country. Barr. Shittu and his team need experts’ ideas to succeed & tBs is another credible platform to express ourselves as it concerns the growth of telecoms & IT industries in Nigeria. See you at tBs!

CFA is the Founder, www.CFAtech.ng & Co-producer/Presenter, Tech Trends on Channels Television

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