The Federal Government should reconsider transferring its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) agencies from the control of the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
Prof. Adesola Aderunmu, the president of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), made the appeal on Friday in a statement.
He said that this was due to a recent move to transfer the control of the National Information and Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) from their present parent-ministry to another.
“ICT is central to the creation of the emerging global knowledge-based economy and it is a pivotal instrument in accelerating growth, promoting sustainable development and eradicating poverty in developing countries such as ours.
“`NCS, the umbrella body of all information technology professionals, stakeholders, and Interest groups in Nigeria with over 20,000 memberships, in 2011 worked with the Federal Government to establish the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology.
“NCS also agreed with the Federal Government in 2011 to retain: NIGCOMSAT, NITDA, and Galaxy backbone-as agencies under the control of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology for sustained development and actualisation of ICT objectives.
“This is toward diversifying Nigerian economy as communicated by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) upon the creation of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology in 2011.
“The missions of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), NITDA, Galaxy Backbone and NIGCOMSAT, are related and their focus is more on ICT.
“Presently, NITDA formulates policies and develops Information Technology initiatives, while, NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone are providers of ICT infrastructure and services to federal ministries, departments and agencies,’’ he said.
Aderunmu said that all over the world, ministries of information and communication technology were created to foster the development of an information society and stimulate the growth of a strong, competitive, vibrant, export-oriented ICT sector.
He said that the sector was a converged-sector for communications and information technology, thus the need to have a converged-supervision for the agencies operating in this sector.
He said that it would be counter-productive to separate operators (NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone Ltd) from their regulators (NCC and NITDA) in the supervisory/regulatory framework, and also contrary to best practices the world over.
The NCS president added that the need to streamline government’s expenditure and fight corruption would not be realised if the regulator of the communications sector were placed under the supervision of a different ministry.
He said that the concept of transferring the control of the three agencies to another ministry would set the nation more than 15-years behind its development plans.
The NCS president, however, recommended that given the importance of ICT to the nation’s economic revival and diversification, the agencies should remain under the Federal Ministry of Communications.
He said that this would engender better performance, networking, coordination, cooperation and collaboration in other to produce better output.
“The Federal Government should empower the Federal Ministry of Communications financially to improve on strategies to achieve gross earnings from the ICT sector, generate employment and wealth creation.
“The Federal Ministry of Communications should be renamed Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to capture the entire ICT sector,” he said.
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