PANTAMI: A TECHVOLUTIONARY ICON By Uwa Suleiman

When in September of 2016, the then Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) heeded the clarion call, packed his bags and bade a very lucrative academic career in one of the most illustrious institutions goodbye, not a few wondered in disbelief. His first appointment in public service as Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), plunged him right into the middle of a complex, disorganised, monolithic and corrupt sector, grappling with the lacuna of professionalism and leadership. Again, not many gave him a chance. Unprofessionalism and a total deviation from lawful standards had become so common place, nobody expected the much needed remedy would come in the form of an unassuming, humble and “new” young man. But he took the Agency, sector and the nation by surprise and within months, repositioned the Agency in every ramification and set it on a steady course of exemplary success. NITDA has continued to thrive on the solid foundations laid by Professor Pantami.

His unprecedented success at NITDA earned him a call to higher duty and two years eleven months later, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) entrusted him with the task of fixing the entire sector and he took the oath of office as the Honourable Minister of Communications on 21st August 2019. As usual, he hit the ground running and by 17th October, less than two months later, he had secured Presidential approval re-designating the Ministry to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, thereby, making history as Nigeria’s first ever Digital Economy Minister, thus, resetting and reversing the hitherto, dire fortunes of the technology sector. The rest, as they say is history. A history of unprecedented and unparalleled successes at personal, national, continental and global levels.

The impact of his leadership resonates in every sector of the economy and beyond the shores of Nigeria. Under his leadership and guidance, the sector has maintained a steady lead since 2020 in contributing to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with the latest figure at a staggering and unprecedented 18.44%. Two of the most strategic developmental documents in Nigeria’s modern history –the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan are to his credit, nineteen national policies developed and in full effect, he established and developed the first- of- its- kind in Africa National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), sustained digital capacity building programmes for citizens, numerous International partnerships and collaborations, nationwide interventions in institutions of learning to promote research and innovation in IT. Led the vanguard for the enactment and implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation and the subsequent establishment of the Bureau, established over a thousand IT Centers across the country, laid the foundation for a solid national data base through the national identity project, supervised the successful trial, auction and launch of 5G and has commissioned citizen-impactful projects and initiatives more than any public servant in present day Nigeria. The Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) just recently assented to, by the President is a huge win that has opened a new chapter of an innovative playground with limitless opportunities for the great potential that abounds in the country. The NSA will drive indigenous innovation in quantum leaps, It will support the current gospel of proven skills over paper qualifications, create jobs, engage citizens meaningfully thereby, reducing crime – the benefits are endless.

Through the discharge of his duties, Professor Pantami has directly fulfilled, or provided the platform, for the fulfillment of the President’s focal agenda of Anti corruption, Security and Economic recovery.
As the adage goes, “a gold fish has no hiding place”. Professor Pantami’s consistency, professionalism, discipline, integrity, loyalty, dedication to duty, patriotism and leadership, has drawn global aclaim to his enigmatic personality. In the six short years he has been in the public eye, the Professor of Cyber security has earned some of the most coveted spots in the global digital economy sector. He is the first and only African currently holding the status of the Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec), a Fellow of the British Chartered Institute for IT (British Computer Society), a Chartered IT Expert, Chartered Cyber security professional, Chartered Computer Scientist, Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society, Fellow Computer Registration Council of Nigeria, Fellow Institute of Information Management, Fellow African School of International Relations and Diplomacy, current chairman of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2022, recipient of professional, leadership and excellence awards too numerous to count including the prestigious Award for Digital Innovation which he recently clinched at the Nigeria Excellence in Public Service Awards.

In a special message on the eve of Professor Pantami’s ascension to the golden fifth floor, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) , wrote “Professor Pantami is one of the most resourceful, innovative and effective public officials that I have in this administration. His depth of knowledge of complex issues is amazing and remarkable and his loyalty and dedication are worthy of emulation. The appointment of Pantami is one of the best choices I have made because he has added tremendous value to good governance”.

As a man, he embodies a life of total surrender to God, as a boss firm, disciplined and principled, as a father kind and protective, as a leader just and law abiding, as a mentor inspiring and practical. Professor Pantami has etched his name in the annals of history and will always be celebrated for his historic milestones. He has consistently lent irrefutable credence to the oath of service he took and the stand he took when he declared “I have deliberately put all my eggs in one basket against popular opinion and this ensures my undivided attention and focus to ensure they hatch successfully”.

 

 

 

Uwa Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigeria.

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