Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami
… Urges NIGCOMSAT to think out of the box or risk privatisation
By Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami has faulted the application of Public Procurement Act in the public institutions, saying that the Act is no longer a preventive tool to fight graft but to perpetrate corruption.
He said, ‘’The procurement Act is an important legislation to fight corruption but today people are leveraging on it to perpetrate corruption.’’
The minister made the observation on Friday at a one-day Ministerial retreat for board and management staff of NIGCOMSAT in Abuja with theme: Re-Engineering NIGCOMSAT Management for 4th Industrial Revolution and Exponential Growth.
Pantami , who lamented the contribution of the public sector to aggregate demand, described civil servants as the engine of government, but noted that they were no longer the same, particularly in Africa, as some of them were no longer supportive of government but use their unions to intimidate government.
‘’Civil servants are the engine of government but unfortunately in Nigeria, reverse is the case in Nigeria. Sometimes, civil servants will not be supportive, they use their unions to intimidate government.
‘‘With all the resources, the country is endowed with the private sector controls the economy, government institutions usually find it difficult to turn things around and to think out of the box.
‘‘Today, if you look at the National aggregate demand, with all the resources, the private sector controls more than 92 percent, the entire Federation revenue is less than 8percent of our national aggregate demand because people in government find it difficult to turn things around.
‘’Any policy introduced is mostly abused, there are so many important laws in Nigeria but in the course of implementation, instead of making use of them positively, they will sometimes become a challenge ‘’
This is even as the minister has challenged the board and management staff of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT to turn the agency around and make the Institution very productive and effective or risk privatization or outright scrapping.
He urged the management to reposition the organization for better performance and bring about the desired change in the face of the dwindling government revenue earnings.
‘‘Think outside the box how to revive NIGCOMSAT and make it more effective.
NIGCOMSAT and make it more effective.
The 2012 Oransanye report recommended the merging and scrapping 106 Federal government institutions. I have carefully studied the report and observed that the recommendation of institutions to be retained and those to be scrapped depends largely on performance.
‘‘If we can turn things around and make our Institution very productive and effective, there is no way government can think of scrapping or merging our institution.
NITDA was recommended to be scrapped but today, the way NITDA has performed, government is not talking about scrapping NITDA again or merging NITDA rather, government is talking about adding more responsibilities to the agency.
’‘If NIGCOMSAT fails to utilize this opportunity, i don’t think there would be anytime it can do so.’’
On why the new MD of NIGCOMSAT was picked from the private sector, Pantami said, ‘‘If you want to change things positively in government company, you bring someone from the industry because if you bring someone from the government, it will be business as usual. If we fail to turn things around, from time to time, that issue will re-emerge on whether NIGCOMSAT should be privatized or commercialized.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Engr. Tukur Mohammed Lawal, said his desire was to nudge NIGCOMSAT Ltd unto the path of profitability.
‘’As a private sector manager of human and material resources, my desire is to nudge NIGCOMSAT Ltd unto the path of profitability. With your support, Hon. Minister, the team l met on ground is poised for a new NIGCOMSAT Ltd. My appeal to my colleagues at the management level and staff of NIGCOMSAT Ltd is to come to terms with the reality ahead of us.
‘‘We need to restore confidence in the Nigerian public in our effort towards reenergizing the company. The task ahead is truly daunting with the deployment of foreign satellites in the Nigerian space.’’
With less than four years to deorbit the present satellite (NigComSat 1R), he called for launch of NigComSat 2 to further boost the confidence and strength the market..
‘’The satellite market in Africa and Nigeria in particular is large enough and NIGCOMSAT cannot be left out. The launch of NigComSat 2 will further boost our confidence and strength the market. There is need to fast track and quickly ensure additional satellite to the country’s space industry cannot be overemphasized.’’
Lawal also appealed to the Minister to, before leaving office facilitate an enabling ACT through the national assembly that will not only protect but position NIGCOMSAT on the pedestal to realize the organization’s vision. The ACT, he said is to give it the leverage in the available market atmosphere especially those of government and the private sector.
In his own remarks, the board Chairman, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Arch. Yusuf Kazaure said Nigeria cannot wait behind while the rest of the world move ahead with the speed of 4th Industrial revolution.
‘‘The world is coming to grips with the realities of the emergence of a new world order characterized by a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other advanced technologies.
‘‘This is the 4th industrial revolution which builds on the foundations of the first three revolutions namely the steam engine, the age of science and mass production and the rise of digital technology. While most of the developing world like Africa is still grappling with the 3rd revolution, the rest of the world has moved on to the 4th revolution that has brought the need for new skills in both management and leadership.
‘‘No doubt, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the way we live, work and associate with one another. It forms part of our human development, supported and empowered by exceptional technology advances.
‘‘Thus , today presents us a great opportunity to learn about 4IR. We appreciate that such an opportunity to learn does not come along often.’’
He however, enjoined all his colleagues to pay maximum attention as the proceedings of the retreat will form a foundation for proposed Board /Management in few weeks time and chart a road map for NIGCOMSAT for the years to come.
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