Story by Rabiyat Usman, Abuja:
The Federal Government has revealed its plans to establish an Information Communication Technology (ICT) University before the end of the year, The Minister of , Barr. Adebayo Shittu, disclosed. Recently: “By the grace of God, in the next three to six months, we should have established in Nigeria an ICT University which will be first of its kind in Africa. This is with the sole purpose of providing training environment and training facilities to make the industry have enough skilled manpower in various sub sectors of the ICT sector.”
The Minister added: “I am happy to say that we already have what is called the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) which is for short term training programmes in six locations across the country and we hope to transform this institute into the ICT University of Nigeria.” Reactions have continued to trail the Minister’s idea and vision for the first ICT University. While some see it as a laudable development others expressed their reservations on the development. DAILY ASSET spoke with specialist/ experts in the ICT and Education sector on the developmet.
Director Information Technology Ogun State, Adekunte Olatundun A. said “I am in support of this proposed ICT University for the fact that specialisation brings about growth, improvement and quality.”
According to the Director: It is a welcome idea because we need to develop potentials in areas we are lacking. We need to concentrate on research that will bring about innovation which will proffer solutions to ICT challenges being faced by the nation. It is also an opportunity to attract industrial giants to collaborate or sponsor research work in specialised university because they will have more manpower and knowledge base”. She added “In a way it will give development of human capacity and abilities in ICT. It will allow special solutions tailored towards solving specific problems. It will be the flagship for which other institutions with Computer department can be modelled after. All these to be efficient and effective, government would need to provide adequate funding and infrastructure to meet the standard of the international world”.
The Head of Department of Computer Science Department, University of Abuja, Dr. (Mrs.) Aminat Showole said “To start with, most Nigerian Universities have entrepreneurship centres within the University environment with the inclusion of Fishery, Poultry, Tailoring etc. but no Information Communication Technology (ICT)”. She advised that “ICT should be included compulsorily in the entrepreneurship centres in all Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria so that students can have the foundation of Technology from the scratch and it would not look strange after leaving the four walls of the Tertiary Institutions into the outside world”. She added:“The ICT University is a welcome idea, but proper monitoring has to be in place, the committees should include people who understand the ICT sector and the Educational standard. One of the major problems is finance. Money should be provided to get the required facilities to make us stand in the world and when money is released, it should be used judiciously to build the standard so that our students can compete internationally”.
A professor who wish to remain anonymous from a State Polytechnic spoke with DAILY ASSET she said “I am aware of the proposed University of ICT but that if it is not different from the other Tertiary Institutions we have presently then, there is no point”. “Apparently going through the list of the committee members drawn by the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu, recently, there are no experienced people from the ICT and Educational sector, the Federal Government should have a rethink of the essence of the ICT University and save Nigeria millions of naira if they are not ready to make a positive change”, she added.
Prof. Oyesoji Aremu who is the Director, Distance Learning, University of Ibadan said “I am very much in support of the University of ICT, it is the right decision in the right direction and it will help us move Nigeria forward technologically and help grow the GDP”. “The importance of ICT cannot be overemphasized, we need to leverage on this opportunity to move Nigeria forward and work with international world ” he added.
A representative of NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) who wishes to remain anonymous said “We are all happy to have an ICT University, the first in Africa, it is necessary in this critical moment we are. Years back, when I was in 100level I did not do know the necessary things I needed to know, I was still taught FORTRAN which I am not using today, I am in full support of the University of ICT, this is what we need now. They should make sure it is properly monitored to get the result to move the country forward”
Shittu added “The University is also expected to create employment opportunities for Nigerians and others within the West-African sub-region, aside from several opportunities that would be created for self-employment.” As part of effort to fast-track the process, the minister said the ministry had secured necessary endorsements from relevant stakeholders within and outside of government including global leaders in the ICT industry such as Cisco, Facebook, Huawei, MTN, D-Links, Globacom, Lenovo, Samsung, Apple, Siemens-Nortel, Intel, Motorola, Ericsson, Dell, HP, ZTE and IBM. The importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) cannot be over emphasized. The saying that Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the next oil of the world cannot be overstretched as the power of IT and Innovation can be seen in the list of the Richest in the world. The Proposed University of ICT is a huge step forward and will further boost the ICT industry and create avenues to reskill and retool the workforce and ICT enthusiasts fit for purpose employee. We will also be able to boast of the requisite skills to take a chunk of the enormous Outsourcing market and the entire ICT value chain.
As events unraveled itself, Shittu, announced that the proposed ICT University would take off, in September, 2017 and went ahead to inaugurate a committee to set the right template on which the university should thrive. Facilities utilization Members of the committee include: Prof Julius Okojie, Dr. Amina Sambi-Magaji, Prof. Ibikunle Tijani, Wole Oyeniran, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Engr. Kazeem Raji, Dr. Joshua Atah, Abdulhakeem Ajijola, Liz Donaholu, Hakeem Adeniji Adele, Dr. Suleiman Mohammed, Olaniyan Mathew, Ayoola Oke, Chris Uwaje, Prof. Olusegun Okunnu, Prof. Aderounmu Adesaola, Kabir Usman, Tajudeen Kareem, Dr. Suleiman Garba and Prof. Patience Akpan-Obong. The committee, recently submitted its report six weeks after to FEC(Federal Executive Council), which was said to include a very robust curriculum of the proposed ICT University of Nigeria; DBI’s facilities utilization including upgrade and expansion where necessary; proposed faculty members for the university including resource persons; framework for collaboration between the university and the industry on one hand and between the university and global industry giants; a sustainable PPP Model for funding the University; and regulations and standards for the proposed university.