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IT: Before that constitutional amendment

By Chris Uwaje
IntroductionInformation technology and internet as a fundamental human right .TO  the National Assembly: Before you make that constitutional amendment, ensure that “Information Technology Education and Access is enshrined as fundamental Human Rights in the Nigerian Constitution.”

FOCUS: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This basic freedom is also recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), in other UN treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 13), and in all three main regional human rights instruments (Africa, the Americas and Europe). Development advancement of the 21st century defined by globalisation has caught many unprepared nations unawares — especially the developing nations, including Nigeria, which constitutes a very significant and critical variable in human existence and development equation.

Today, decision makers find themselves trapped in a complex development spider-web of knowledge, asking key questions such as: What defines community values, progress, development, quality education, justice, wealth, prosperity etc. in today’s global information-centric, knowledge and Information-based economy and society?

Has education kept pace with a rapidly changing world? Are there good models for reform that can be adopted? The thrust of this write-up which attempts to examine future key challenges and proffer functional and sustainable solutions to our nation building dynamics, can be broadly summarised as follows. There is therefore an urgent need to re-define, update and refocus our national development strategies to critically address:

lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “INFRASTRUCTURE”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “EDUCATION & HEALTH”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “GOVERNANCE & Legislation”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “INDUSTRY & COMMERCE”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “CULTURE PROTECTION”.
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “Public-Private Partnership”
lIT Intervention and constructive engagement in “GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS”

IT stakeholders have observed and are deeply concerned that over the years, IT and ICT-related issues have not been given the national attention it deserves, as the catalyst of change for national development and global competitiveness.

This observation has once more been justified by the NON-INCLUSION of the organised Information Technology Professionals in major national  Committees in the on-going national reform programs!
This write-up is structured and presented under four sections.

Section one, forms the introduction to the subject, examines the global impact of the Information and Communications Technologies Revolution and its implications for Nigeria. Section two examines the key factors of global challenges to nation building in the 21st Century with lessons for Nigeria.

Under section three the write-up presents the strategic imperatives for ensuring that Nigeria is integrated into the knowledge and information-based value society, through ICT intervention- as a significant part in resolving the attendant issues of her UNDER-DEVELOPMENT, POVERTY ALLEVIATION and leap-frogging her to the path of global competitiveness, wealth creation and prosperity. Section four concludes the submission with useful recommendations and strategies for the way forward.

lThe thrust of this contribution
This write-up sets out to contribute to the on-going national and global IT development, as a concerned Nigerian Professional in the field of Information and Communications Technologies. The thrust of this contribution is centered on my professional conviction that Nigeria needs and requires a new value system based on science and technology-intensive knowledge, merit, honour, equity, justice and the rule of law to succeed.

Above all, this thrust is further strengthened by the recognition of the fact that the above vision can only be timely and meaningfully accomplished, if we re-structure our nation to be science and technology-based, IT-driven, creative and quality knowledge intensive and globally competitive.  We must move from a manual to a machine society. To do this, the nation should establish and include “Information Technology and Communications Education and Access as a fundamental Human Rights in the Nigerian Constitution” now under the amendment process.

lBackground
Challenges of “Unchanged National Development Strategies in a Changed World”
Today, decision makers find themselves in a complex national development spider web and they have begun to ask questions. What defines values, development, progress, happiness, satisfaction, success, wealth, prosperity sustainability and survivability?

Are there successful models for constitutional reforms that we can, emulate, adopt and domesticate?  The answer is yes. As Nigerians, we recognize that our country is acclaimed as the single largest concentration of people of African origin under the universe – endowed with enormous human and natural resources.

These credentials place us in an envious position and at a critical moment of human history. Conscious of the great challenges that confront the attainment of our national dream, vision and destiny, we are concerned about the need to leave a befitting and lasting legacy for this generation and those yet unborn. Therefore, including “Information Technology and Communications Education and Access as fundamental Human Rights in the Nigerian Constitution” becomes strategic imperative.

FOCUS: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This basic freedom is also recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), in other UN treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 13), and in all three main regional human rights instruments (Africa, the Americas and Europe).
lContinues next week.


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