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Is Kashifu Abdullahi Fit To be DG of NITDA?

NTIDA (1)

Dr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, a 39 year old IT operations and solutions architecture professional has been appointed by the Federal government of Nigeria as the new Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

In a series of tweets, Bosun Tijani, CEO/Founder of Co-Creation Hub, a technology lab and pre-incubation space has said that the recently appointed Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency is unfit for the role.

Established in 2007, NITDA is the Nigerian agency responsible for implementing the “National Information Technology Policy”. According to their website, their mandate is “To create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices in Nigeria”.

Bosun Tijani ,who through the Co-Creation Hub established in 2007 has supported the growth of the technology ecosystem in Nigeria has recently become more critical of decisions taken by the government in regulating, supporting and developing an industry that is very important to him.

He believes that Kashifu Abdullahi’s appointment to NITDA is a case of the newly appointed minister of communications, Dr Isa Ali Pantami appointing his “mate” to the role.

Supporting Bosun Tijani’s statement, Oluseun Onigbinde, a Nigerian entrepreneur and co-founder/CEO of budgIT, a Nigerian civic organisation that believes in holding governments accountable has summarised the impact of NITDA as “Sponsoring start-ups to international conferences and labelling it as achievements”.

 

Bosun Tijani goes on to challenge supporters of the move to show the successes of Dr Isa Ali Pantami while he occupied the role.

Directly responding to Bosun Tijani, the special assistant to the President of Nigeria on new media, Bashir Ahmad tweeted the resume of the newly appointed DG of NITDA and hailed him as the “architect of cashless banking in Nigeria”, a claim the former CEO of eTranzact, Valentine Obi and a few other industry heavyweights will challenge.

Who is Dr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi?

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was the Technical Assistant to the outgoing DG. He is a graduate of Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University,  Kashifu and worked for Galaxy Backbone, the information technology and shared services provider of the Federal Government of Nigeria as a Network Engineer and Solutions Architect.

According to his resume, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi is an MIT trained strategist with 15 years experience in IT operations, business transformation and solutions architecture across both the private and public sectors.

He attended leadership and management courses at Harvard University in the USA, University of Cambridge in the UK and IMD Business School in Switzerland.

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He is the first CISCO Certified Internet Network Expert (CCIE) in Nigeria’s public sector, a qualification that allows experts plan, design, implement and manage complex, modern IT data center infrastructure. There are about 38,005 qualified CCIEs in the world today.

Mr Abdullahi also has professional qualifications in networking, telecommunications, service management, etc.

What is the new NITDA DG’s role as specified by the government?

 NITDA is the ICT policy implementing arm of the Federal Ministry of Communication of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In an interview, the former DG of NITDA who is now the Minister of Communications said that when he came on board, he realised that the scope of the agency was very wide and he streamlined it to 4 main objectives;

  1. That NITDA truly represents its mandate; i.e., its regulatory role.
  2. That NITDA is removed from administrative role to IT-driven Agency.
  3. That NITDA supports local content
  4. That NITDA drives capacity building and job creation.

The NITDA website breaks down their role as

  1. Certification and clearance of OEMs
  2. Creation of IT hubs and capacity building
  3. Regulation of the .gov.ng domain.
  4. Data protection
  5. Registration of service contractors and providers.

What does NITDA need?

According to Bosun Tijani, “a Cisco trained engineer with a very narrow career path is not what is needed for NITDA, we know what is required to run NITDA”.

According to him, NITDA can unlock unprecendented growth for Nigeria through technical efficiency. He believes that the new DG and his predecessor who is the new minister of communications are not qualified to run NITDA.

According to Oluseun Onigbinde, the search for the leadership of NITDA should have been wider. “I wish the new NITDA guy well. I hope he expands his horizon to see ICT as the rapid enabler for private sector jobs and not limit self to his familiar space, the government”.

Henry Okelue, the Team Lead, Data Center Operations at Galaxy Backbone says the new NTDA DG provides an opportunity for collaboration with the Lagos tech ecosystem which Bosun and Oluseun belong to, He believes that “Rather than condescension from the Lagos start-up guys towards the new NITDA DG, a young guy with ample technology and public sector experience, they should begin to think of ways to collaborate with him to achieve their own and national goals”.

Directly responding to Bosun Tijani’s tweet, He also shared the new DG’s resume.

Bosun not having it responded to him saying “lol- do you know what NITDA is? If you do, you won’t share that CV”.

(The Author of  this piece  Ifeanyi Abraham, is an experienced communications and digital marketing professional who helps companies, government agencies and NGOs leverage the power of marketing and communications. He has worked for organisations in the private sector- iROKOtv, Konga.com, eTranzact, Jumia, Mobil, Hennessy, Heineken and consulted on projects for the Central Bank of Nigeria and INEC. He also writes for global platforms like HuffingtonPost and Pan african platforms like VenturesAfrica and Techmoran.com

He lives in Dubai, UAE and runs NigeriansInDubai.com, a platform that captures the stories, impact and lifestyle of Nigerians living, working and visiting Dubai).