AN ADDRESS BY THE SENATE PRESIDENT OF
THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA,
CHIEF (DR.) ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
AT THE COMMISSIONING OF
THE NATIONAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
AGENCY (NITDA) INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES
IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY, 4™ JUNE, 2002.
My Distinguished and Honorable Colleagues in the National Assembly
The Honorable Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner T. Isoun,
Directors General and Heads of Parastatals,
Captains of the IT Industry,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I consider today a special day in the history of this nation in several respects: Firstly, I view this commissioning as one of the series of activities to launch Nigeria into the global information society. Secondlv, Niaerians do not have to look too far for the dividends of democracy: it is not just at their doorsteps now; but it is actually right at their finger tips as E-governance with its attendant benefits is only a few clicks away. Thirdly, Nigeria has arrived, even if belatedly, at the threshold of embracing Information Technology (IT) culture.
- It is in the light of the foregoing that I heartily congratulate the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology headed by the Hon. Minister, Prof. Turner Isoun and the management of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the occasion of the commissioning of the IT facilities at NITDA’s head office. I feel honoured to be part of this epoch making occasion. This is a demonstration of the commitment of both the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government to the development of IT in Nigeria and in ensuring that Nigeria truly becomes part of the global information society.
- The world is undergoing an information technology revolution that has drastically changed many facets of human life from education, industry, economy, politics, entertainment and, of course, governance. The emergence and convergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) have therefore remained at the centre of global socioeconomic transformations.
- The use of information and communication technologies to drive the development process is receiving greater attention worldwide. Using the catch phrase “Bridging the Digital Divide”, national governments, NGOs, corporations and global bodies such as the UN and the G8 are all marshalling resources to use ICTs for accelerating the growth and development of the developing nations.
- We have been told time and again that Nigeria entered the digital race rather late. Countries like India and Malaysia that responded early enough to the emerging IT revolution are already being counted among the global IT giants. But I would say, it is better to be a late entrant than be a non-starter. Therefore, the launching of the national IT Policy and the establishment of NITDA as well as today’s commissioning of the IT facilities at NITDA should bring rays of hope and greater expectations to our national psyche. I challenge NITDA not to dash this hope.
- Honorable Minister, NITDA cannot afford to fail. Nigerians are beginning to be awakened to the great potentials of Information Technology. The nation will henceforth look forward to the Ministry of Science and Technology for answers to her IT development questions. NITDA is very strategic to the nation’s development and I consider the official commissioning of the VSAT, and the Public Service Information Network today as a good beginning.
- I would like to urge the Ministry of Science and Technology and the management of NITDA to clearly articulate any institutional, fiscal, and legislative support required for the development of a wider range of IT infrastructure and solutions. There is an urgent need to strengthen NITDA for the implementation of the National IT Policy with an enabling law. The Ministry of Science and Technology is welcome to sponsor the IT bill through the appropriate agencies of the Executive Arm of Government. On our part in the National Assembly, we shall give such a bill the expedited attention and passage that it deserves.
- I hold the view that no effort should be spared to launch Nigeria into her rightful position in the cyberspace. Information Technology is no doubt our short cut to national development. This government has already demonstrated a visible commitment to the development of Information Technology. The 2002 appropriation bill marks the first time the nation has made significant budgetary provision for Information Technology development in its true sense. You will also recall that just last month, we commissioned the IT facilities of the National Assembly. So the National Assembly is pleased that this commitment is being rewarded today by the commissioning of the VSAT and the Public Service Information Network.
- Today’s event may look very small and insignificant when viewed against the enormity of the task ahead, and the achievements made by other countries. However, Nigerians should rather heave a sigh of relief and say with me “at last we have started”. I have no doubt in my mind that given the right support and attention, what is happening here today would go down in our history as one of the major positive turning points in our quest for modern political and socioeconomic development.
On that note, and on the sacred trust conferred on me by Nigerians, I now proceed to commission the National Information Technology Development Agency’s IT facilities which include the VSAT, the Public Service Network, the Nigerian Keyboard, and the twenty-computer laboratory training facilities. Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.
Chief (Dr.) Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON
Federal Republic of Nigeria.