Let me start this piece on remembrance of the Amazon Dr. Dora Akunyili who died of uterine cancer in 2014. Her popular saying of “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” still resonates with so many compatriots. She was indeed a great loss to Nigeria.
Dora Akunyili was a professor of Pharmacology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, she worked with Muhammadu Buhari’s PTF as a zonal secretary for four years where she was an integral part of the PTF’s medical programme and he excelled in such activities led to her recommendation to Olusegun Obasanjo for appointment as NAFDAC Director-General in 2001 where she served till 2008 and since then Nigerians understood what NAFDAC stood for and the drug manufacture and retail industry has had sanity till this date. Her contributions to that sector were legendary, her management skills over erudite professionals and aides like Pharm. Hashim Ubale was awesome and they formed an exemplary synergy that saw to the success of their mission for the benefit of the nation.
Stories like that of Dora form a perfect preamble for my topic of today which seeks to showcase excellence and individuals who make a major mark in societies by planting trees whose shades they may never sit in. Dora met an existing Agency and injected energy and vigor for the actualization of its mandates. Isa Ali Pantami originated a brand new ministry and formulated its agenda and has since taken over the governance space within a span of one year, if this is not genius then what could ever be. It is actually the absolute definition of Game Changer.
In the past, the Game Changer slogan had been used to classify an individual who formulates strategies for winning elections by political parties albeit through the wrong means and that has been an unfair utilization of such an awesome adage. Well, now that we have found someone who suites into the definition of the adage, Nigerians would appreciate better what it means to be a Game Changer.
Before the emergence of Dr. Isa Ali Pantami as the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerians including me only regarded the ministry to be somewhat duplicating the responsibilities of the Ministry of Information, but he was brought to the fore to make us understand otherwise. The only visible activities were those of NCC and NITDA and the latter’s activities were also courtesy of the Game Changer’s role as the Director-General of it. There was no coordination between the various parastatals or any agenda over any item that relates to the mandate of the ministry.
As soon as he was unveiled the minister, he quickly sought the approval of the President for the reengineering of the ministry to align with its core mandate and today an average Nigerian can quickly describe what the ministry is about and what it stands for. The various tertiary institutions are appreciating the importance of digitalization and are keying into his digital policies by embracing the various interventions he created while at NITDA while others are demanding for the deployment of the interventions to their institutions. The industry players in the telecom sector now feel the pulse of regulation around their nerves and they feel more need to be serious more than ever. I am sure your mind can picture how a game has been transformed over here.
Pantami has also changed the game of leadership by institutionalizing the spirit of teamwork. All the parastatals in his ministry move with him as a team and that has helped in articulating and synergizing his agenda amongst all of them and such has visibly led to the increase in ICT’s contribution to GDP for three quarters in a row. The camel breaker was the inclusion of the Nigerian Identity Management Agency to his roll of parastatals which finally made us understand how serious he was of truly setting an unprecedented stage for Nigeria’s actualization of digitization for economic prosperity. If you’re looking for a definition of game-changer, look no further.
Progressive governance stories are meant to be brought to the fore in such time when the citizenry has found it hard to differentiate between rent-seeking and participation in government policies. For example, the subsidies and free services are not sustainable and funds need to be freed for the provision of the so many infrastructures that are being worked upon amongst others. Young people then need to understand to take advantage of the digital sector that has been rejuvenated. It seeks to create wealth through ingenuity. People like Dr. Isa Ali Pantami should inspire hope that the government is working to make a brighter future for the citizenry but the buy-in of the citizenry is also paramount. We have to quit laziness and get to work.
Next time you’re confused about the meaning or understanding of a Game Changer, I have provided you a case study here.
God Bless Nigeria.
Hashim Suleiman can be reached via email@example.com