Pantami: Spotlighting the minister’s service to Nigeria

It was Mindy Grossman who submitted that “I have always had the philosophy that doesn’t define power. Impact defines power.” He closed with the twin questions, “What impact are you making on people; what impact are you making on business?” This profound statement underscores the best efforts of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, of Communication and Digital , since President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him to lead the ministry.

While Nigeria’s enemies will want to hang the man for his old and forgotten views, it is his current impact, action and dedication to transforming the fortunes of corporate Nigeria by leveraging on the opportunities afforded by technology, while also deploying ICT to better secure our nation that should interest . As suggested by Mindy above, Pantami the game changer has focused on impacting the business end of ICT and it turning into a source of foreign exchange earning.

With his eyes on wealth creation, the first task Pantami undertook after assuming office was to initiate a massive federal investment in tech hubs all over Nigeria, but especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. However, to ensure that every part of Nigeria is brought onboard, the started off quite rightly by working with stakeholders in the communication value chain to end a 13-year stalemate on the issue of Right of Way (ROW) that had hindered broadband penetration for years, before sitting down to codify veritable ICT policies that will Nigeria not just as a global player in the ICT sector, but also a nation leveraging on ICT to accumulate much needed income and in the process, contributing to the nation’s revenue generation drive. With oil revenue heading for the rocks, Pantami’s foresight was exactly the kind of critical thinking for which Nigerians voted President Buhari; needless to say, it was in consonance with President Buhari’s dedication to economic diversification. 
More specifically, Pantami has engineered the design and implementation of digital projects nationwide. These include ICT Innovation Hubs, Digital Skills for Entrepreneurs and Innovators, Community IT Training Centers, Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centers (TIKC), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), and completion of Emergency Communication Centers (ECC). Expectedly, this was done to stimulate creativity and deliver income to .

And as a response to the nation’s worsening security, particularly with regards to the use of IT channels to perpetrate Internet crimes and coordinate deadly attacks on innocent Nigerians, the initiated the mandatory registration of all unregistered Sim Cards, {leading to the deactivation of over two million SIMS} as well as the linking of Identification Modules with the National Identity Number. 
This was in pursuance of the the Buhari ’s resolve to create an integrated database of Nigerians and non Nigerians living and doing business in the country in a bid to better protect and ease crime investigation. Because there’s no gainsaying the importance of Identity Management to the security, planning and evaluation of policy thrust and policy impact on the lives of Nigerians, Dr Isa insisted despite widespread resistance from many of the unscrupulous elements benefiting from Nigeria’s porous Identity system that all communication lines not linked with NIN should be permanently disconnected, hence the backlash culminating into a media smear campaign against him.
It is therefore no surprise that for the first time in Nigeria’s chequered history, ICT outperformed oil and Gas to contribute 14.5% to the nation’s GDP in September 2019. But this is not what many wanted to hear. They want to play politics with everything. For while many of see a goal-getter in Pantami, enemies of Nigeria see an enemy hellbent on making sure there sources of illicit financial flows is blocked and transformed into money spinners for the nation; for all of .

To make matters worst for dangerous capitalist who have been shortchanging Nigerians, Pantami took a caustic look at existing practices and decided they were financially predatory. One of these was the USSD billing from providers which he caused to be suspended, after which he insisted on the slashing of data rates in a move he predicted will help boost business, productivity and improve the internet experience of Nigerians who are increasingly turning to the internet to find knowledge, legitimate business and fun. 
This is why it is surprising that while Pantami is landing awards everywhere and getting elected as the president of multilateral ICT bodies like West Africa Telecommunications Assembly (WATRA) some never-do-wells who sense that the era of illicit ICT business is nearing its end are riling up unsuspecting Nigerians to join their desperate attempt to halt the incisive surgery of Nigeria’s digital space.

I think Nelson Mandela captured Pantami’s life perfectly when he submitted that “You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself”. Here then, is why instead of listening to rabble-rousers go on and on about who he was, we should be concentrating on who the man is and what he has and is still offering to Nigeria as and a patriot who permitted himself to be forged in the proverbial fires of knowledge, insights and enlightenment; to change and to grow from a simple cleric into one of the most celebrated technologist and administrator that Nigeria has ever seen.
It will be no exaggeration to submit that, of all Buhari’s ministers, Pantami is the one person whose policies have directed benefited Nigerians. It will appear Pantami’s life of is exactly what Anyaele Sam Chiyson had in mind when he asked “Could anything be better than this Waking up every day knowing that lots of people are smiling because you chose to impact lives, making the world a better place.”? Absolutely not! To Pantami, this is all there is to his life of . It will be best if his enemies understand that their fear of his achievements and steady feet won’t make him drop dead.
George writes from Lagos.

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