Again, ICT4D missing as politicians chase votes
In a few days, Nigeria- Africa’s biggest democracy will again queue to pick new leaders; but the candidates in the presidential race have not gone beyond political rhetoric.
Rhetoric is about persuasion. In politics, persuasion is either achieved by using rational, empirical arguments or appeals to emotions or tightly held beliefs.
In their scripted speeches and conversations, the candidates have ignored the most potent tool in nation rebuilding- information and communications technology (ICT).
Despite the excitement in the air, most Nigerians are dissatisfied with current economic conditions and not impressed with the country’s democracy.
As a country, Nigeria is unparalleled in her diversity – cultural, religious, social, and economical as well as political.
One glue that binds all of these together is transparency in governance. This can only be made possible by an ICT driven government.
Unfortunately, either by ignorance or deliberate actions, the key actors have largely ignored this essential ingredient and focused on the same political gimmicks that now sound like broken records.
Though, most of the aspirants have launched high tech campaign strategies to woo voters and sell their candidatures but they have not said a word about how to tackle the menace of internet scams that have earned the country notoriety as a fraud haven.
This situation is scary because this is one area that Nigeria can quickly leverage on to join the league of industrialised nations like South Korea and Singapore. The investment here is minimal compared to setting up a motor manufacturing plant
Advisers of the presidential candidates must drum it into their principals’ ears that ICT is the only key to rebuilding of the country’s economy hobbled by years of mismanagement and neglect.
The lack of focus on ICT will determine the success or failure of the political actors, particularly now that Nigerians are tired of their undelivered promises in the past.
By now, the aspirants should be talking about how they intend to make broadband internet, the life wire of development.
Broadband is already a basic right in some countries but has remained largely under developed in Nigeria, because of the unseriousness of successive governments.
Elsewhere, multiple-taxation is hurting fresh investment in the ICT sector and no aspirant has said anything about how to address the indiscriminate quests for internally generated revenue from ICT firms by all tiers of government.
Today, ICT companies are constantly harassed, their base stations and offices locked indiscriminately by government agencies.
Going forward, the aspirants should be telling Nigerians how they intend to redesign the educational curriculum; create of ICT parks/innovation hubs to create new ICT entrepreneurs capable of leap-frogging the country’s growth.