By Martin Ekpeke
The President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, has frowned at the poor level at which Nigerian economy has leveraged technology as its driving force, claiming that 90 percent of technologies used in Nigeria are imported.
Aderounmu stated this while giving the Keynote Address at the first International Conference on ICT for National Development and its Sustainability organized by the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Ilorin, to mark its 10th anniversary.
The Obafemi Awolowo University Professor lamented that, this is happening despite the huge knowledge infrastructure of 162 legally recognized universities, 125 polytechnics and more than 500 agencies.
“Nearly 90 percent of technologies used in Nigeria are imported despite the huge knowledge infrastructure of 162 legally recognized universities, 125 polytechnics and more than 500 agencies,” he emphasized in his lecture, entitled “Leveraging ICT for National Development and its Sustainability.
He said that Nigeria had failed to come up with neither a globally recognized company nor a product originating from Nigerian indigenous technology because the national economy had not been technology-driven, even after 58 years of independence.
Calling on the Federal Government to raise modern manpower that could sustainably drive the nation’s economy, Prof. Aderounmu argues that help the Federal Government to develop the Information Technology Industry through research centres, technology parks and incubators, provision of reliable and affordable infrastructure and provision of fiscal incentives for indigenous software developers.
He further suggested that the government could develop the sector through the creation of a special fund to assist start-up businesses as well as grow existing developers, enactment of a law that mandates MDAs to patronize indigenous software while mandating the immediate implementation of the approved Scheme of service for IT professionals.
While recommending that priority should be given to registered IT professional in the award of IT contracts in the country, Prof. Aderounmu equally tasked the academia to promote productive collaborations and partnerships both internal and external and create learning opportunities for the students.
He said, “The system of mentoring, apprenticeship and tutelage, which existed in the past should be re-introduced and strengthened. Split-site arrangements should be encouraged to enable young researchers to be acquainted with new trends, globally. Spend a considerable portion of its yearly budget on global promotion activities.”
While declaring the conference open earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, assured the participants that the University would do everything possible to ensure conferences are successfully held in the institution.
He submitted that conferences are crucial to the students’ development and growth as it gives them exposure and cross-fertilization of ideas, adding that students should be invited in large numbers to attend conferences.
Prof. Abdulkareem revealed that discussion is ongoing to mobilize the Faculty leaders and talented students to work together to house the University’s ICT incubation room so that the entire University processes could be automated.
He also disclosed that facilities required improving ICT research activities for staff and postgraduate students have been identified.
In his welcome address, the Ag. Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr. Rasheed Gbenga Jimoh, explained that the conference received over 100 articles from over 41 different academic institutions nationally and abroad cutting across computing, library and information science, telecommunication science, mass communication and media technology, information and cyber security and information technology.
Dr. Jimoh said that a major hindrance to national policy implementation is lack of full integration of ICT, which he submitted, has prevented the nation from being able to retrieve vital information for effective decision making.
The Dean said, “The Faculty under my leadership is therefore committed to doing everything possible to assist the University to realize her dream of becoming a citadel of learning to be reckoned with globally with full integration of ICT”.
Awards were later presented to some distinguished Nigerians for outstanding services. Notable among the recipients were former Vice-Chancellors of the University, Prof. Shuaibu Oba Abdulraheem (OFR), Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede (OFR), and Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON); as well as the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem’ the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Osun State, HRM Oba Abdur-Rasheed Ayotunde Olabomi.
Former Deans of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr. Omenogo Mejabi, Prof. Lenrie Aina and Prof. Joseph Sadiku; as well as the pioneer Head of the Department of Mass Communication, late Nureni Doyin Mahmoud were also awarded at the Gala Night that marked the end of the conference.