May peace, mercy and blessings be upon you! All praises and thanks are due to the Lord of the universe.
Good morning, senior management and staff of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). It is a great pleasure to meet with all of you today in office as your colleague and Director-General.
Let me begin by thanking you for the warm reception you have given me. I also want to thank the then Acting Director-General, Dr Vincent Olatunji, for his kind and gracious introduction last week when I came here to familiarise myself with NITDA and to collect the handover notes due to me before my formal assumption of office. It turned out that our brother, Dr Olatunji, wasn’t done putting together the handover notes, without which I couldn’t start work effectively.
Fortunately, the notes were handed over to me on Friday, the 30th of September, 2016 at 3:15 p.m. I have given the notes a cursory, preliminary glance, and will keep in touch with Dr Olatunji to seek clarifications where necessary. I want to register my sincere gratitude to him for running the affairs of this important agency in an acting capacity for nearly 9 months, and for the handover notes he handed to me.
The handover notes have given me some insights into what is on ground here. In the next few days and weeks, I would like to meet with departmental and unit heads, individually and collectively, for a better appreciation of where the agency is today and what challenges lie ahead of it.
First impressions, they say, last long. The first impressions that registered in me when I first set foot here have been favourable, and I hope and pray these impressions endure throughout my tenure here. I began to feel at home from my very first day here. I can’t stress it enough that I will continue to need your cooperation and support in our collective desire to grow this agency, to help it to fulfil its mandate, and to build on the praiseworthy successes of my predecessors.
I regard you all as my treasured colleagues, and I am here to work with you as a team. I need your prayers, advice, and cooperation in order to actualise the mission and vision of this agency. I assure you that justice, fair play, transparency, and the rule of law will be the guideposts of my leadership and dealings with you. I have no enemies here; only friends. I am inspired by the timeless wisdom popularised by our President, Muhammad Buhari GCFR, in his inaugural address encapsulated in his famous declaration: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
I will strive to demonstrate in words and in actions that all of Nigeria is my constituency. Don’t approach me with gossip. Don’t come to me with malicious, ill-natured reports about other people. But I welcome any suggestion or information you have that will help grow this agency we all love and work for. Remember, too, that you are welcome to call my attention to where you think I am going astray. Although I have a PhD in Computer Information Systems, I don’t know it all; nobody does. I came here to serve Nigeria, and success is my priority.
My esteemed colleagues, the qualities that will make you successful during my tenure here are: 1) integrity; 2) expertise and professionalism; and 3) commitment to your duty.
In addition, I want to categorically state that I am allergic to corrupt practices and favouritism. I will never tolerate these twin vices. So let us join hands and say “No to corrupt practices and favouritism.”
In order to encourage productivity and motivate honest, ethical, hardworking members of staff, I will move staff welfare to the front burner, and introduce special awards for best performing staff.
I am glad to continue with all the good projects of the agency as long as they meet irreducible minimums in due process, and conform to the law that established the agency. Where projects violate due process or impose needless burdens on the core mission of the agency, they will be reviewed in the interest of the nation.
My doors are open to all staff members, including messengers and cleaners. Come forward with suggestions, ideas and observations. In official communications, official routine channels should be followed.
NITDA, as you all know, is a very strategic agency. It is one of the most knowledge-based government institutions that require a harmonious blend of knowledge and creativity. Section 6 of the enabling law establishing NITDA and the Nigeria Outsourcing Policy and Institutional Framework for Nigeria (Paragraph 3.3) clearly encapsulate the general thrust of the objectives and functions of the agency. To paraphrase Section 6, the law empowers the agency to plan, develop, coordinate and monitor all matters relating to IT practices, activities and systems in Nigeria. This is further reinforced in the National Outsourcing Policy and Institutional Framework for Nigeria, which provides that, “The overall policy objective is the promotion of an enabling institutional, legal, regulatory, technological and Infrastructural environment for the sustainable development of the outsourcing sector in Nigeria.”
This therefore makes the agency an important and strategic one, placing on it a huge responsibility and from which so much is expected. Clearly, the agency is crucial to the technological aspiration and development of our country in this ruthlessly competitive global world where we can’t afford the luxury to lag behind. This is particularly true in these challenging economic times when our country dearly needs ICT in its bid to diversify its economy.
I would also like to remind all staff that the attainment of the objectives NITDA was set up to achieve is a collective responsibility of all staff. My role as the DG/CEO is to provide leadership, guidance, supervision, and motivation to all staff to harness all available resources towards the realization of our goals. In this task, as I pointed out earlier, I will be guided by the rule of law, established processes and procedures, equity and fair play.
Accordingly, I will seek and require the support and cooperation of all staff. I want all of you to re-dedicate your energies and creativity towards moving the agency forward.
Time flies quickly. There is no time for honeymoon. I am fully aware of that. I am also aware of the transience of this position. I won’t be here forever. With your cooperation, I want to use my time here to make a difference.
Finally, I want to reassure you that I have come here with an open mind. I am receptive to new ideas and suggestions. Most importantly, however, I want your single-minded commitment to ensure the success of NITDA and by extension the creation of a modern, IT-driven Nigerian society.
Thank you all for your time!
Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami