By Luminous Jannamike and Fortune Eromosele – Abuja
Eminent Nigerians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Prof. Pat Utomi, and Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, on Thursday, urged the Federal Government to tackle the decay in the power sector, saying Nigeria can no longer afford to be relegated to the backseat in a technology driven world.
They spoke at the 70th birthday lecture and book presentation of the Emeritus Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, in Abuja.
The theme of the lecture is, ‘Technology: A Missing Link in Nigeria’s Development. Speakers at the event also expressed sadness that the ignorance of some appointees of the Federal Government technology-wise was costing the country trillions of dollars in foreign investments.
According to Ernest Ndukwe, who is the Chairman of MTN Nigeria, the world is currently experiencing massive transformations in various sectors which are completely driven by new innovations, stressing that inadequate technology infrastructure was the bane of Nigeria’s development.
“It is those nations that lead the development of new technology that will emerge leaders of the world and also countries that can apply science and technology to solve problems that face humanity,” he said.
In the same vein, Prof. Pat Utomi said it was shameful that most of the challenges in the power sector were caused by personal choices made by political leaders.
According to him, Nigeria’s technological backwardness had become an existential threat to the nation.
He said, “We live in the information age, and we cannot compete in this world, if we are not properly keyed into technology.
“Government policies have not enabled technology to advance as it should in our country. We need policy makers who are savvy enough to understand where things are going.
“There is no area of our endeavour that we don’t require technology to take us very far. One of the biggest setbacks in the country is power.
“It is a tragedy and a shame to our country that the power situation is where it is today. Most of the challenges in the sector were caused by errors in choices made by leaders.
“We cannot make progress, as a nation, until we deal with power, because it is so fundamental. But we could have solved the problem 20 years ago.”
For his part, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Nigeria needed a leadership that understood technology and was willing to reform the economy through digital innovation.
He added that beyond having a technology enthusiast as President, the country also needed a leader that would unify, restructure and guarantee the security of its citizens.
Atiku, however, said he was the right man that would give the country what it needed to take the lead in the comity of nations.
“Nigeria needs a leadership that can unify the country, bring stability, restructure the country, reform the economy and bring about cohesion to the nation,” he said.
In his remarks, DAAR Communications Chairman, Dokpesi, said that Nigeria’s growth and development would be realized only if political leaders could create new economic opportunities, and transform the society.
He also stressed that the issues of insecurity, the infrastructure deficit, internet affordability and access, broadband connection speed, digital literacy, digital and technical skills gap, gender biases in the technology industry must also be addressed for the nation to advance.
Against that backdrop, Dokpesi opined that science and technology held tremendous benefits for Nigeria’s economic growth.