•Prof Umar Garba Danbatta

By Adedayo Ojo

The Chief Executive Officer and Vice chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), Umar Danbatta, an Academic Professor has joined the list of eminent citizens of African continent adjudged to bag the prestigious Zik Leadership awards organised by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC).

Instituted 25 years ago in honour of the first President of Nigeria, Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, the award was intended primarily to encourage and nurture leadership on the African Continent and in the Diaspora.

The Zik Award has earned itself a global respect because of the traditions of very high standards which winners must attained and attested to, a practice not yet compromised by the selection committee right from the beginning.

A glance at the roll call of past winners attested to the integrity of the Zik Award as an award with honors reserved for the best and achievers.

It is therefore glorifying that Professor Umar Danbatta has joined past winners which included the late African icon and president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, late Ghanaian president, Jerry Rawlings, President Yoweri Muzevini of Uganda, former Ghanaian president, Rahman, former Chairman of NCC’s Governing Board, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Hon Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker House of Representatives.

Announcing Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as a winner of the Zik Leadership Award, Professor Pat Utomi described him as ‘a square page in a square hole’.

Plucked from the Ivory Tower to add value and reposition the nation’s telecommunications sector through the NCC, the Kano born pace setter has led the charge to drive Nigeria’s industrial revolution and knowledge-based economy leveraging on telecommunications.

PPRAC observed and with available records under Professor Danbatta showed that in the Telecom sector, contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria has grown by 70 per cent from 2015 to 2020, whilst broadband penetration has leaped from 8 percent to 42 percent, in the same period.

Pat Utomi had remarked while announcing Danbatta as one of the winners of Zik Award that “His leadership has enhanced transparency and innovation in the sector, such that recently, NCC was acknowledged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as one of Africa’s foremost regulator.”

Nothing could better justify the nomination of the NCC boss for the epoch award than the nomination letter of July 2020, which was jointly signed by the Chairman of the Board, Senator Jubril Aminu, CON and Pat Utomi, that the NCC boss is “an outstanding public servant, whose initiatives and reforms had contributed to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) playing a leading role in the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”

Born in Danbatta Local Government Council of Kano State, Prof. Danbatta has a rich resume. He obtained his BEng, MSc degrees from the Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and his PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) UK.

An erudite Engineer, Philanthropist, and an Outstanding Nation Builder, the Executive Vice-Chairman served as a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Technology of Bayero University Kano for 32 years. At different times, he was Dean of the Faculty and Head of Department.

A recipient of 18 distinguished awards and certificates of honour, Prof. Danbatta has served two terms of five years as a Member of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and is a COREN registered engineer and Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE). He is also a Fellow of the Renewable and Alternative Energy Society (FRAES). Danbatta who received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Science (D.Sc.) from the University of Jos, Nigeria is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.

He led the Implementation Committee of Kano State University of Science and Technology, after which he became its pioneer Deputy and Acting Vice-Chancellor when it took off in 2001.

Professor Danbatta’s tour of duty at the NCC actually started as the Vice President of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), established in the year 2004 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to build capacity for the Nigerian/African telecom industry in the diverse areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in a developing economy.

He was appointed the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)) in August 2015, and records showed that he has tremendously transformed the Telecom Sector in the areas of Staff Welfare, Infrastructural Development, Consumer’s Empowerment and Satisfaction, Job Creation, Standard Information and Communication Technology Revolution and Research.

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Danbatta has Rebranded the Telecom Sector, through Cordial Relationship with Stakeholders, Increase in Active Mobile Broadband Penetration, Efficient Monitoring and Value Driven usage for the provision of Different Types of Services.

The Zik Leadership Award could be described as the king of honors in the collectors bag of honor which NCC under Professor Danbatta has garnered both locally and internationally.

Such awards of recognition include the European Award for Best Practices 2016 by an EU Organisation, in Brussels Belgium; Quality Achievement Award for Best Practices by European Society for Quality Research (ESQR) 2017; Exceptional Public Service Performance in the Platinum Category (Bureau of Public Service Reform).

The Leadership Newspapers Award of Government Agency of the Year; Chief Executive Officer of the Year (Tell Magazine); African Regulator of the Year at the African Information Technology and Telecom Awards (AITTA) in Accra, Ghana; Regulator of the Year by African Leadership magazine in New York, USA.

Telecom Personality of the Year- 12th Nigerian Telecoms Award, Lagos; Telecom Man of the Year 2017—Nigeria Tech Innovation & Telecom Awards (NTITA); Telecom Man of the Year 2018—Nigeria Tech Innovation & Telecom Awards (NTITA).

Also in his kitty were the Personality of the Year Award by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture, African Quality Achievement Award 2016 by African Quality Institute, Human Rights Government Agency of the Year by Constitutional Rights Awareness and Liberty Initiative (CRALI).

Still counting was the 2017-Beacon of ICT Awards as Telecom Regulator of the Year, Beacon of ICT Awards: Best Use of Social Media, Authority Newspaper Exemplary Public Service Award, 2017, Most Responsive CEO of the Year (Public Service) by House of Representatives Press Corp (2018), The Outstanding Leadership in Broadband Penetration (The 2nd Daar Awards for Outstanding Performance & Good Governance) 2018and Award of excellence in Technological Development & Leadership Heroes (Kano Heroes Awards 2017).

There was the Pan African Telecomm Regulatory Excellence Nigerian Communications Commission (Africa Digital Heroes Awards (October 2019), Government Agency of the Year (Beacon of ICT Awards), Telecom Personality of the Year Nigeria Tech Innovation & Telecom Awards (NTITA) September 2019, National Public Servant of the year, 2018, Business Journal Award (September 2019), Telecom Personality of the Year, ICT Watch Awards (July 2019), Regulator of the Year Award ICT Watch Awards (July 2019) and the Award of Excellence by Head of Civil Service of the Federation to NCC (September 2019) as well as the ITU Telecom World Awards 2019 to NCC.

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