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We’re Building A World Class Garden City – Cookey-Gam

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No where is the symbolism of democratic rule which
we mark today and the psychic income and democracy dividends it has offered, more visible than in Rivers State where Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has striven assiduously to turn his vision of a great Rivers State to reality, especially in the development of infrastructure and physical planning?
The Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority (GPHCDA), the agency set up to build and develop a new and modern Port Harcourt City, is one of the many efforts of the state government to ensure structured development in the building of our dream city.
In this encounter with The Tide  Op-Ed/Features Editor, Victor Tew and Senior Reporter, Enoch Epelle, both of whom were later led on a tour of some GPH projects, the Authority’s Administrator, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam adumbrated GPHCDA’s achievements and challenges.
Excerpts:
As pioneer administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, how has it been?
It has been exciting, rewarding and challenging. It is rewarding in the sense that there are things planned that have come to realities.
So you are convinced that you have achieved quite a lot?
Yes. A lot has come to reality. We have achieved quite a lot in terms of development of the new Port Harcourt City and the provision of infrastructure.
You see, over the years, governments have neglected the responsibility of controlling development plan of Port Harcourt. Developmental plan of Port Harcourt City was not regulated until the present administration led by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.  With his developmental vision, he mandated us to do so and build a world class Garden City thriving economically, efficiently and prosperously and assuring its residents a quality of life envied for its peacefulness, comfort and sustainability.  We are still in phase one of the development of the new city.
On April 2, 2009, the Greater Port Harcourt City Development law, establishing the Greater PH City Development Authority came into force.  GPH work was commenced with the design and engineering drawing, followed by construction works on some of the projects.
Who are your partners in this developmental task?
We have both public and private investors. We have joint partnership with Rivers State government and the private sector in the area of development plan. We partner with them in different modules, some with money, and some with goods.  Again, the golf course development has commenced under phase 1b, and it is a joint partnership between the state government and a private investor.  We also have an area for educational layout in the new city which would also accommodate a federal government school now in the drawing board.
What are your challenges so far?
We are always faced with some challenges in terms of financing. We also have the challenge of weather.  It has not been easy especially during rainy seasons.
We also have challenges on the part of delay by contractors, in the area of verification and schedules among others.
Your Authority appears to be involved in some sort of urban development. Don’t you see your functions clashing with those of Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development?
Urban Development Ministry is in-charge of Development in Port Harcourt and parts of Obio/Akpor while the Greater Port Harcourt City Development,  Authority takes care of the designated areas in the new plan covering parts of Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Etche, Ogu/Bolo,  Oyigbo and Eleme local government areas.
However, we do collaborate with Ministry the of Urban Development in all our compulsory field works in terms of government control, regulation and planning.
We also work out the professional boundaries with the Ministry, and if your application is in the area that falls in Ministry of Urban Development, we refer to the Ministry, and the Ministry also refers any application that falls in our area to us.
How did you come about the Master Plan?
The Master Plan was prepared by a South-African firm. The idea is to bring back the glory of Port Harcourt as a well planned city where we have infrastructural development growing along with the development of the state in a structured manner.
We haven’t planned the city to look like London, Paris or Dubai, but with the vision to build a modern City while controlling the already planned old city for urban growth through strategic planning and de-densification of the old city.
How far has your Authority gone in the implementation of the master plan?
We are in phase 1, the one being implemented now.  But in terms of developmental Control for the GPH areas, we are monitoring and regulating how development would be taking place.  Our staff also work with entire LGAs.
But in terms of new city development area, we are dealing with Phase 1 now.
Also, inspite of what we are doing on phase one 1, we also have some other developing stages like education layout where we are already encouraging development plan.
We have  also mapped out industrial areas to encourage industrial development in Eleme area nearer to the Seaport at Onne.
Only last weekend, we tried to define a big industrial area that can offer opportunity like Trans-Amadi industrial layout in Port Harcourt, along Eleme area.
We have different development plans in different areas, depending on what and how it suits the area for the development plan.
How much has so far been spent on the implementation of the master plan?
In terms of Master Plan, all releases are done on annual basis, and I think up to date, we may have put in about N60 billion.
How has your Authority faired in terms of corporate transparency, especially in compliance with public procurement law?
We, as agency of government, have remained in compliance to public procurement law in all our dealings.
Have land owners in the development areas been compensated?
Most land owners have been compensated for their land, while a few others would soon been compensated. We deal directly with the land owners without going through any agent to avoid any excuses.
On the other hand, we are bringing back Port Harcourt City to its original garden city plan.  We have done a lot of urban renewal; we have opened – up roads to give access to the new areas of development. You can see roads completed and ongoing, linking Elelenwo, Woji and Akpojo areas to the Greater Port Harcourt City area at Eleme and others.
We also have the road that linked the Airport through Obiri-Ikwerre to NTA and Ada George Roads.
We are also developing infrastructure and amenities to tie the new city and old city of Port Harcourt. We also considering traffic in some of the developing areas in the future and we are constructing flyover bridges.
In the past, Port Harcourt was only planned up to GRA and Presidential Hotel, but today Port Harcourt has been expanded to Oyigbo, Etche, Ikwerre, Eleme. But the difference is that the expansions were not planned and there was no consideration on how the city is growing, hence it continued to grow in unstructured manner.
In the new city plan, we have what looks like triangle from the Airport, Refinery Road, Seaport and Old City of Port Harcourt.
Recently, your Authority invited applications from interested members of the public on sale of lands at the greater Port Harcourt area. How are you going to ensure transparency in the process of selecting beneficiaries?
The process of selecting beneficiaries would be very transparent and that would be done in a few weeks time. Honestly the demand is more than the supply.  There are categories of applicants.  And we are going to be fair to all and that is going to be by balloting.
Why can’t some of the projects be taken to the hinter land?
We can. If you watch the way Port Harcourt is growing, you will see that the greater Port Harcourt has a purpose. You see a lot of growth in Eleme, Oyigbo and Etche axis, that is why we, in Greater Port Harcourt decided to control development in those areas. Development is a continuous process as long as people are alive.
If you watch around the world now, most people have come to realise that there is need to take control of how development is growing, like Delta, Kaduna, Lagos, Cross- River, Akwa-Ibom. We can see the difference between areas that are developing and areas that are not and therefore most governments are invested heavily in infrastructure. It has nothing to do with colouration of your party, or for the visioner.
The truth of the matter is that the society need to grow and effective administration must continue to ensure that we take control on how development grows.
If you watch what is happening in Abuja now, you will see that the residential area is fast developing without control.
There is no control in the development of infrastructure in Abuja.
Development is growing faster than the infrastructures that have been put in place.
Are you saying that control is the integral part of development?
Exactly, if you do not control how will you ensure there is discipline.
What we are doing is to ensure that there is control of existing master plan and a new city that will stand the test of time with infrastructures growing along with development.
For example Trans-Amadi layout has gas turbine.  Definitely, it is cheaper for companies that are there to get electricity.  So it connects economic growth.
So if you look at our master plan you will observe that in the residential areas, we have facilities and infrastructures that are planned to boost economic activities, like at Eleme area, we designated industries, we do that to connect the seaport at Onne, for economy and logistic  activities.  So these are the kind of things we are trying to do.
It is important to also note that we work in conjunction with all other departments of government to put everything right before the time, and therefore you can see new roads because the master plan has provided roads to run in the same directions.
So, is we see a new road in the area, we ask the commissioner for work to identity the road, and how it fits into the plan.
In the new development area, we also plan for managing the traffic. We are building bridges not because we don’t know what to do with money but to avoid the kind of traffic problems we have in the city presently.
If you go to the new Port Harcourt City, you will see what we are doing. We have bridges access roads. Water supply, power supply and other projects going on.  Some are completed, while some yet to be completed. By the time all these developments are okay, and people are there, you will see the difference.
By the time people start living there growth will come and the question is: are you ready for the growth when it comes? We calculating this from the projection of the kind of population we would like to have in future.
We don’t want to have the kind problem we are having in Woji area where a lot of people are coming out there.
What about the roads that  are not yet completed, especially the one linking Akpajo?
You should notice what we are doing there.  We are doing bridges there, expanding the roads down to Akpajo. In the next one year, when the road would be completed, houses there would be very expensive.
We plan, we projected, it is not when population has settled, then we now seek for solution, not at all.
We don’t want to dislocate people in future.
So I congratulate the Governor of Rivers State for the vision. It takes a lot of courage and money to do what we are doing now.  But I can assure you that he has committed a lot to make sure that we drive the projects.  It is just that.
We are encouraging the next governor that will come to queue behind the plan and vision of Governor Amaechi. Development will continue, but let us do the right things.

Administrator, GPHCDA, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam explaining a point during the interview

Administrator, GPHCDA, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam explaining a point during the interview

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Entertainment

Transforming Nigeria Through Movies, Music, Arts

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Oil since its discovery in commercial quantity in Nigeria has dominated the nation’s economy, oil exports have contributed 98 percent of the Federal Government’s revenue. This over dependence has made the Nigeria’s economy unstable, non-static and has displayed a large over dependence on oil incomes.
It is on this premise that studies have been carried out to identify other sectors of the economy that could minimise the over dependence and mono economy syndrome of the nation. One of the veritable sectors is the entertainment industry, also known as the creative sector which comprises the movie, music, comedy, arts and culture, among others.
As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence from colonial rule, an indepth analysis of these eventful years reveals that the creative industry is dynamic and has not only generated unprecedented wealth for the country, but has also created employment opportunities for her citizens, contributed immensely towards transforming the country into a leading nation in Africa as well as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.
After Nigeria’s independence in October 1,1960, the cinema business rapidly expanded. In 1972, the indigenisation Decree issued by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon encouraged the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinema houses from their foreign owners to Nigerians resulting in more Nigerians playing active roles in cinemas and film businesses.
Today, Nigeria’s film industry popularly known as Nollywood is adjudged the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood of America and Bollywood of India and contributed 2.3 percent (N 239 billion) to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the economic and recovery growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $ 1 billion in export revenue by the end of 2020.
In the music sector, music has become Nigeria’s new export, in November 2017, Nigeria’s music star, Wizkid won the Best International Act category at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards held in London, the first for Africa-based artistes. At the same MOBO Awards, another Nigerian super star, Davido, took home the Best African Act Award for his song “IF”, a love themed ballad with a blend of Nigerian rhythms and RnB.
Since its release in February 2017, the official IF video has raked in up more than 60 million views on You Tube views for any Nigerian music video and one of the highest ever recorded for a song by an African
Across the African continent, other musical groups such as Kenya’s, boy band, Soto Sol, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and South Africa’s Mafikizolo have collaborated with or featured Nigerian top stars in attempts to gain international appeal.
Reuters news service calls Nigerian music,’’ a cultural export’ and the Nigerian government is now looking towards the creative industry including performing arts and music to generate revenue.
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics Report that the local music sector grew in real term by 8.4 percent for the first three months of 2016 and that in the first quarter of 2017 the sector grew by 12 percent compared with the same period one year prior.
The Price Water Cooper (PWC) reports that the global attention the Nigerian music scene has received in the past three years has been accelerating. There is no better time for Nigerian artistes to use data and insight to reach billions with their musical content which will help to reposition the country.
According to the vice president, International Strategy and Sperations Warner Music Group, Mr. Temi Adeniyi,” the promise of what could be achieved by Nigeria’s booming music industry in the next decade is awe-inspiring especially if the industry focuses on the critical issues of adequate compensation and piracy.
In Arts, the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe noted that” culture is the new revenue driving sector which can serve as an alternative to the oil sector in Nigeria “
He stated this at the official opening of the 13th edition of Akwaa Travel and Tourism fare in Lagos in 2017. He maintained that culture was a viable alternative revenue generating sector that could help to boost the economy.
According to a recent entertainment and media output report by PWC, Nigerian entertainment and media industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.8 billion by the end of 2023.The report which was released in October 2019 disclosed that the market is dominated by internet revenue as it presently contributes about 61 percent of the sector’s revenue followed by television and radio which is expected to push towards $1billion in revenue by 2023.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “We are ready to explore and exploit the new oil. When we talk about diversifying the economy, it is not just Agriculture or solid Minerals alone, it is about the creative industry, about the films, theatre and music”.
The minister made the comments ahead of a Creative Industry Financing Conference held in Lagos in 2018.He noted that the Nigerian government is already providing incentives in the sector including a recent $1 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians preparing to set up business in the creative industry.
He also said, “The country is allowing the industry pioneer status, meaning that those inventing in motion picture, video and TV production, music production publishing, distribution exhibition and photography can enjoy a three to five years tax holiday.
Other incentives such as government backed and privately backed investment funds are also been implemented. The minister noted that with the impressive performance so far recorded, the creative industry has been viewed as a sector that could help the government reach its goal of diversifying the nation’s economy away from oil.

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News

Oil Exploration And Niger Delta Environment

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From the first crude oil export in 1958 to the exploration of its associated products such as gas, the Niger Delta region for the past 60 years has not fared well in terms of sustained development despite being the source of the nation’s means of livelihood.
According to reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the region generates between 65% to 75% of all Federal Government’s revenue especially after the end of the Civil War in 1970.
But today, although oil and gas and its associated products still run the nation’s economy, its bye-products and impact on the region are quite devastating on both environment and the socio-economic life of the people of the area. The aquatic life, forests and farmlands have been so degraded that some areas are now devoid of human and animal habitation. Diseases and sickness are now prevalent with some communities are facing great health challenges.
Worried by these hazards, the late renowned playwright, and novelist, Kenuule Saro-Wiwa raised alarm in the late 1980’s about the fast paced degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta region. Although he was eventually killed during the struggle to find an equitable solution to the problem, the fight for a comprehensive study and remediation of the environment continued unabated despite the obstacles placed on would-be environmental activists.
The region is also described as one of the most polluted in the world. It is estimated that while the European Union experienced 10 incidences of oil spills in 40 years, Nigeria recorded 9,343 cases in 10 years which could be described as a deliberate effort to slowly eradicate life from the area through poisoning of the environment.
Following the long agitations and protests from the area, the Federal Government in 2016 finally gave the nod for the implementation of the long awaited United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report beginning from 2016.
In a foreword to the report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland as a case study, UNEP had this to say: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoni land is a large complex and often painful one that till date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future discussion.”
It also says, “It is also history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterised by lack of trust, paralysis and become set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned.”
The situation in Ogoniland is peculiar to the rest of the Niger Delta region.
The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State was the beginning of the environmental crisis bedeviling the Niger Delta region.
It would be recalled that the agitation for environmental reparation of the Niger Delta region dated back to the colonial times.
The agitations led to the setting up of the Willinks Commission of inquiry into the fears of the minorities. Although the commission amongst others, recommended the granting of special developmental status to the Niger Delta, the recommendation was never implemented by successive Nigerian governments after independence.
The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta region can be said to be of mixed blessings to the region.
On the one hand, it improved the per capita income of the region through the creation of middle and high income earners. But on the other hand, it has led to series of environmental pollutions, thereby depriving communities in the region of their sources of livelihood.
This situation has led to series of crisis in the region such as the Ogoni crisis of 1990 to 1993, the Kaiama Declaration which led to the creation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the crisis in Umuechem in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and others.
Similarly, the development of artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta has also been blamed for contributing to the recent acid rain and black soot in the environment.
Although the Nigerian authorities may have taken some measures to ameliorate the sufferings caused by oil explorations in the region, through the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) which metamorphosed into Federal Ministry of Environment, the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); inclusion of derivation into the Constitution and the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have not been able to provide the much-needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta as the problems still persist.
Meanwhile, experts have attributed the high rate of poverty in the Niger Delta to the environmental degradation of the region. At a recent Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo shared a documentary of the current situation in the Niger Delta, adding that the region has remained backward despite its huge economic contributions to the Nigerian nation.
Ambassador Toyo who was secretary to the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration said, “it is frustrating to know that the context has not changed as these challenges still stare the region in the face.
“The Niger Delta is still very much degraded as issues such as the following are still debated upon: gas flaring, abject poverty, militancy, crude oil theft, unemployment, cultism and organised crime, poor state of infrastructure and underdevelopment,” she said.
She also said; “apart from lack of opportunities in the region, there is also the breakdown of law and order in the communities.
“Communities often fight over who gets what when development opportunities arise as seen in some communities in Ogoni with regards to the clean-up,” adding that such fight can scare investors away and the region will continue to suffer underdevelopment.
Also in its policy brief note on insecurity in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat says, “there is an environmental dimension to insecurity in Rivers State. For several years now, Port Harcourt and its environs have been covered by soot.
“This is as a result of increased artisanal refining of crude oil and other forms of pollution in the state.
“These pollution-inducing activities from both illegal artisanal and legal oil production has increased environmental insecurity in Rivers State.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of life in Rivers State,” it said.
Also speaking on the issue, a civil society activist, Ambassador Christy Iwezor said the Nigerian nation has not done enough for the Niger Delta.
She said 60 years down the lane, some oil producing communities have no water to drink and cited the example of some communities in ogoniland in which sources of water have been polluted.
Also speaking, another civil rights activist, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for a policy that will incorporate the polluters pay principle into the Nigerian law.
According to him, if multinational companies are fined for pollution, they will be more careful in their operations.
He also blamed environmental problems on sanitary conducts.
“The problems of environmental degradation in Nigerian is caused by poor sanitary conduct of Nigerians and inefficient use of local government council workers on environmental sanitation.”
According to him, local government councils must also wakeup to their responsibilities of ensuring improved level of hygiene in their various communities.
The question is after 60 years of independence, have we really made any meaningful progress in the Niger Delta compared to similar environments across the globe where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy. It would be noted that the gulf countries where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy have gone far ahead in terms of environmental remediation.
The 60 years anniversary should provide the opportunity for the country to further look into the Niger Delta issues.

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Special Edition

How ICT Can Push The Envelop In National Dev

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If it was just for information and its gathering, processing and transmission, it can be said without any fear of equivocation that Nigeria has never lagged, especially in the context of the development of that sector within sub-Saharan Africa. After all, the first crop of the country’s political leaders was among the best journalists and newspaper publishers in the region, namely Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro, among others.
Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and the Western Nigeria Television inaugurated in 1959 by Awolowo served to inform, educate and entertain the people while also effectively galvanizing them for the Independence struggle of the time.
At that time, radio broadcasting had already been dominated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All the people did was to cluster around their short-wave radio sets for an hourly dose of news from London. Private radio stations were not a common sight, if they existed at all.
Cinema was a luxury then as the mobile cinema units of the various regional information ministries travelled around to entertain mostly rural dwellers who had little or no access to electricity and television. A community was considered lucky if it enjoyed such visitation as many as three times in one year.
On the other hand, telecommunication and its associated technology did not develop as rapidly, being the more expensive. For a long time after attaining Independence on October 1, 1960, Nigerians depended on whatever communication infrastructure their British colonial masters left behind. This consisted of the local town crier system, postal and wire services (including land telephone, telegraph and cable telegram). The Post and Telecommunications (P&T) Department saw to the provision of the latter services. It was later split into the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), now privatised as NTel.
Foreign companies like the International Telephone and Telegraphs (ITT) won major contracts for the development and rehabilitation of communication infrastructure, especially after the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. Recall that the late politician and business mogul, MKO Abiola, once rose to become its chief executive officer for the African region.
It is widely believed that not until the introduction of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) on August 6, 2001 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led civilian government did the face of ICT change in Nigeria.
The government took the decision to deregulate the telecom sector through its policy on adoption of ICT in 1999 by licensing such international mobile phone service providers as ECONET (now Airtel), MTN, and Etisalat (9Mobile) to set up shop in Nigeria. They were later joined by an indigenous telecom firm, Globacom, as a Second National Operator (SNO).
It could be recalled that the entry of Globacom into the telecom industry was at a time when call cost was N50 per second. The firm immediately introduced a pricing system that charged 11 kobo per second, thereby forcing a crash in the cost of mobile telephony as the competition was practically whipped into line. As if that was not enough, it soon undertook the laying of underwater international fibre-optic cable for superior service delivery.
Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) like Starcomm, Reliance Telephone (Reltel), Multilinks and Visafone were also licensed to provide mobile phone services but mainly on the fixed wireless GSM and CDMA platforms.
With regard to its social and economic impact on the nation, industry experts are agreed that the GSM revolution has led to massive employment generation. From the ubiquitous roadside under-the-umbrella call centres to the street corner cybercafés and cell phone retail shops the nation had never witnessed such rise in the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Additionally, available statistics indicate that the overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecoms sector stood at $32 billion in mid-2015; second only to the oil and gas sector. Others have even posited that, with the collapse of crude oil prices between 2015 and 2017, activities and earnings from this sector may have seen to Nigeria’s quick recovery from the recession of those years.
In terms of policy and regulatory oversight, ICT in Nigeria is said to be conducted under three major policy documents, namely: the National Mass Communication Policy of 1990 which implementation falls under the purview of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); the National Telecommunications Policy of 2000 with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as chief executor; and the National Policy for Information Technology of 2001 to be executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
NBC is the main regulator of the broadcast industry in Nigeria. Some of its activities include the issuance of broadcast licences, allocation of transmission frequencies, establishing operational standards and ensuring compliance with the broadcast code.
The Commission is, by law, required to report to the Presidency through its parent ministry (Information and National Orientation).
The NCC which came into existence via an Act in 2003 has regulatory authority over activities in the telecommunications industry. It has powers to license operators, encourage competition, ensure quality service, monitor tariffs and protect consumers, among others.
The NITDA came on board through a 2007 Act and is charged with the planning, promotion and development of IT penetration and projects across Nigeria.
There are four other policy implementation and regulatory bodies within the ICT sector. They are: the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA); NIGCOMSAT; National Frequency Management Council (NFMC); and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).
The non-ICT sector has also recorded some significant gains arising from developments in information and communications technology. For instance, the use of presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint in schools and corporate boardrooms, computer spreadsheet for accounting, e-learning, e-library, e-banking and e-commerce are some popular applications that have yielded good social and commercial dividends.
The use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (POS) terminals and mobile money transfers have helped to decongest banking halls and also save man-hours that would ordinarily have been wasted in long queues.
Another benefit of ICT was made even more manifest at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown when schools were abruptly shut down and children who could afford it engaged in virtual learning from their homes. Even some of their parents were forced to work from home using whatever ICT means available to them.
Also, the New Media which is powered by ICT and includes Internet publishing and social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have significantly enhanced real-time information sharing and social interaction with people across the globe.
Personnel management and remuneration systems have been made easier with the advent of biometric exercises, electronic time-keeping and integrated staff records and payroll methods long adopted by the private sector, and more recently, the federal, state and local governments. Even the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the systems upgrade steadily being undertaken by some of its agencies are ICT-driven.
In agriculture, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration used GSM phones to dislodge middlemen while distributing fertilizers and other farm inputs directly to beneficiaries in the rural areas. This may have served to boost food production.
After successfully emerging from the latest economic recession, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration drew up a four-year Economic Reconstruction and Growth Plan (ERGP). In this plan was included an ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 which it hoped to achieve through activities of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and which seeks to create two million jobs by the end of 2020.
Overall, the ICT sector still has the potential of yielding more positive results if only the government can follow through with some of its lofty roadmaps, especially those that aim to establish ICT Centres and Innovation Hubs in selected states across the country.

 

By: Ibelema Jumbo

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