Events have passed in the past week during the commissioning of the Emergency Communication Centre among other projects associated with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. Such events have as usual attracted interests from mischievous Nigerians as is always is with progressive stories. The question is: When are we going to learn to be more critical for crying out loud?

What makes one wonder even more is how much such writers do without researched information or understanding of how governance should be in the 21st century. Poorly written pieces laced with terrible grammar are what you see and some of them may suggest to you that it is a paid plot from very less strategic individuals who wish to drag every effort by the superstars of the Buhari Administration for trying to ensure the success of the administration of Mr. President in tandem with loads of the expectations of the people. Such sponsors don’t have any business being in governance; their motive is other than progress.

People like me would have chosen to ignore such cheap shenanigans of politicisation of every little intent, but I won’t because my love for Nigeria has refused me to be beclouded by sentimental or political considerations on critical matters that pertain to national development and of which my nation so desperately require.

I read opinions suggesting why the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy would not enforce discipline in his Ministry even when the cardinal belief of his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, is discipline. I wish there would be more Ministers in this administration who would take the matter of indiscipline as much as Dr. Pantami does. Those cheap opinions only go to show how much indiscipline has eaten deep into us and we must do something about just like I am doing now.

Have we forgotten so soon how some of the populace were insisting on Buhari to be a little harder on Nigerians as that was the only way we could get Nigerians into shape? Unfortunately, the man was guided by the principles of democracy and resorted to taking things easy. Even at that some people still complain about the fact that he is slow in his approach and whatnots. Some others also think he is autocratic and all of them are various opinions of how confused we can be sometimes regarding what we really like and something to further indicate how difficult it is for leaders to bring about change in our society.

Going specifically into the event of the Commissioning which created so much buzz, Mr. President only chose to showcase his democratic part by allowing his appointees to do what is appropriate in correcting anomalies that he himself abhors. How then are people trying to mischievously pitch the Minister and his principal on the enforcement of the belief of the latter? Can’t you all see yourselves?

I heard and read the speech of the President and in it, you could clearly see how he highlighted the synergy that the Honourable Minister had been able to create amongst the Ministry and agencies under its supervision. You could also see that the event that took place there was an idea that had been muted long before then during the unveiling of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, during the e-Nigeria Conference last year. He appreciated the efforts of the Honourable Minister so far in terms of the efforts being put at trying to redirect Nigeria towards the non-oil revenue earner. Dr. Pantami or any other well-meaning leader would not allow all such achievements to be rubbished on the altar of politics or indiscipline. The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is today arguably the Ministry with the most synergy between it and its agencies. These successes could be the reasons some people, both internal and external, are not happy about.

Talking about who built the facility, even if it was Mango Park that built the facility and is standing with no usage, no sensible leader would come and start to bore people with stories of how it came by, the interest must be of how it was going to be utilised and in this case, the matter was under the purview of the Communications and Digital Economy which Dr. Isa Ali Pantami superintends over. Was there supposed to be arguments over who did or who did not? How has writing an article become this cheap for God’s sake? We should be bigger than that.

As a matter of education, let me share my little understanding of a Ministry while growing up. Ministries were all in all of the government, every aspect that pertains to issues relating to a particular Ministry were always championed by such Ministry and all correspondences to the President on such matters must be communicated appropriately. Unfortunately, the recent leaders of the past who themselves were bereft of indiscipline and have also transferred the same to the citizenry have reduced ministries to be lower than some Parastatals. These issues cannot be disconnected from corruption in terms of which the CEO settles the most if you know what I mean. It is high time such is stopped and we should even be thanking Dr. Pantami on efforts to restore the pride and essence of ministries rather than denigrating him.

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and his responsibilities are those of the management of the Communications and Digital Economy sectors of Nigeria. We cannot then choose to drag him down over his attempts to make sure the sector works. Everyone has agreed to the fact that things have changed regarding the responsiveness of all of the arms of that sector and I can challenge anyone to an open public debate on the matter. Researchers and those sensible Nigerians who wish well for the nation would easily agree with me on this. From the NCC to NITDA and NIPOST, this is exclusive of the so many that are on the pipeline and that some of us are privy to. Is this the person we would want to denigrate for reasons bordering on indiscipline which we the citizenry are also absolutely guilty of? Capital NO!

The Honourable Minister before assuming the Ministerial position has had this Digital Economy idea in him as showcased through his performance as the DG/CEO NITDA. For those of you who are blinded mostly by politics and mischief, you will do yourselves and the nation good by visiting Higher Institutions of learning around the country to find out NITDA’s intervention in ICT. One was just recently commissioned at the University of Port Harcourt. Not to mention areas like Data Protection and Regulation Frameworks, Smart Agric policies, Cybersecurity and securing for NITDA the ISO27001 certification amongst others. Little wonder why he made a commensurate recommendation for the appointment of a Director-General who would, in synergy with him and others, help to actualize a digitalized Nigeria. I have once heard where he has said NITDA’s books were open for the public to check and recent checks by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives gave a clean bill to the Agency with commendation too. These are physical achievements and not rhetoric.

He has then catapulted to the Ministry and is trying hard in areas like broadband and SIM security. He has brought the various components of the Ministry to help achieve a very important mandate that does not require jokes, indiscipline and incompetence.

This is also an opportunity to call the attention of the President to the plot of these kinds of individuals; they whip up all kinds of nonsense by trying to take his mind away from the ball. They attack the shining lights of his administration so there can be a failure that they and their paymasters will latch on during elections or for the sole purpose of seeing appointments as avenues for amassing wealth or arena for the display of indiscipline and impunity. Indiscipline and obedience of lines of duties must be enforced and the time cannot be farther from now.

Finally, let me call on the citizenry during this season of COVID-19 pandemic to understand that it is time for reflection over the activities of our beloved nation. The lack of certain critical infrastructure is today hunting us and a majority of it was the lack of discipline in governance. We cannot as a nation continue to condone indiscipline and corruption, therefore we must be careful about the kinds of things we defend or even waste our time on. All energies must be channeled towards identifying people in the likes of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and support them to continue despite the much resistance that people like those who wrote on the matter present. We must quit the Pull Him Down attitude and imbibe the Lift Us Up one.

By the way, I still insist on a public debate on this matter because it is no joke and it’s only through very critical engagements that people’s brains can be developed, not cheaply politicising every issue of development.

Hashim Suleiman writes from Abuja.


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