Mr Okey Ikpe a former executive at Microsoft Nigeria has said that Federal Government never paid him “a dime” for rendering what he cites as “herculean service” to the country.
Ikpe, who is now CEO of Office Machines Nigeria Limited (OMNL), a Nigerian technology consulting company says that in spite of giving his best to the service rendered, government never considered remunerating him for his time, energy and resources.[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”right” arrow=”yes”]”Interestingly, I was part of the team that articulated the five-year strategic plan of the National Information Technology Development Agency which should help in repositioning the agency from a ‘self contract awarding agency’ to a catalyst that fosters IT diffusion, internationalization and integration in Nigeria”, Ikpe a respected voice in the Nigerian ICT sector with over 17 years of professional experience says.[/quote]
“It may interest you to note that I developed and designed the curriculum and program for reintegration of ex militants and unemployed youths from Niger Delta under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs”, Ikpe says.
According to him, “I was never paid for my ideas, efforts and knowledge which is typical of Nigeria government. However, my overwhelming joy is that I contributed in a big way to national development.”
The CEO of OMNL explains further that he led the team that developed and designed the enterprise architecture and IT strategy of the National Population Commission (NPC), which was a prerequisite to conducting successful biometrics-based National Census in 2006.
”Let me reiterate that these strategic consulting services I offered were at no cost to government. On the contrary, most government agencies pay firms such as Accenture, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, IBM Global Services, McKinsey and Boston Consulting millions and millions of dollars”, Ikpe says.
”Interestingly, I was part of the team that articulated the five-year strategic plan of the National Information Technology Development Agency which should help in repositioning the agency from a ‘self contract awarding agency’ to a catalyst that fosters IT diffusion, internationalization and integration in Nigeria”, Ikpe a respected voice in the Nigerian ICT sector with over 17 years of professional experience says.
According to him, the Nigerian government needs to change its attitude towards the adoption of technology in other to address the hydra-headed challenges rocking the country. If effectively applied, e-Government requires openness, transparency, collaboration and skill in taking advantage of its capabilities.
”ICT can help to solve our situation if only a conscious effort is made to focus on renewable energy, solar technology, retraining of our workforce, introduction of technology in government and sincerity of purpose by leadership to use accurate data in planning, managing, sharing and allocation of resources in Nigeria”, he adds.
”This is self – explanatory and unambiguous. Let’s just use technology and for once stop living in land as the Americans would say”, according to Ikpe who says that exploiting these capabilities within government systems is a challenge that encompasses environmental, policy, legal, and cultural issues.
”Clearly, it is not the absence of methodology, technologies and tools that create complexities in interacting with government but largely the human element.”
He adds that ”if the change mantra can instill and create a phalanx for professionalism and excellence in execution of government assignments aimed at delivering public good, I can guarantee you that in no distant time the entity Nigeria will begin to unleash its potentials.”
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be broadly viewed under two sectors, Information Technology and Communication. In Nigeria, the growth of both sectors is very significant in the past two decades, he says.
”While the Communication industry has built up an enormous confidence for itself in the global markets, Information Technology (IT) has remained at very rudimentary stage especially in governments and governance.”
”Let’s be honest the challenge with government is not lack of enough revenue to meet its obligations, neither is it the absence of laws or institutions to enforce policies and regulate. It is clearly the abuse of regulatory and use of powers”, he adds.
Citing the global statistics on productivity levels, Nigeria ranked 124 in the 2015/2016 results of the World Economic Forum Annual Global Competitiveness which Ikpe says underscores that a lot needs to be done in improving on the present state of the Nigerian economy.
”The picture is mixed where a less competitive domestic environment outweighs improvements to encourage foreign competition. The financial market, where banks are rated as relatively sound but access to finance remains problematic and the labour market, which is one of the region’s most flexible but is dragged down by an inefficient use of talent and a comparatively low female participation rate”, Ikpe adds.
The OMNL CEO believes that priorities of government should include investment in infrastructure which is singled out as the most problematic factor for doing business coupled with human capital, where poor health in the workforce and inefficient higher education holds the country back from fulfilling its fullest potentials.
Commenting on how he founded Office Machines Nigeria Limited (OMNL), an information technology consultancy and software services company, Ikpe explains that, ”I had over 17 fascinating years of professional experience working for global IT companies namely IBM, Compaq and Microsoft and of course, the premier IBM partner, Data Processing Maintenance and Services Limited (DPMS) before stepping out as an entrepreneur to establish Office Machines Nigeria Limited (OMNL) in 2009.
”During those periods I worked with multinationals I had the opportunity to interact with some of the global best minds in IT, in a cross cultural, multiethnic and diverse environment”, he says.
”I picked up the fundamentals and advanced knowledge about computers, software, networking and communication as well as how technology helps to transform and enhance productivity of various sectors such as banking and finance, telecommunications, government, healthcare and education.
”I am extremely passionate and excited about the works that I do; as an entrepreneur, technology social change agent and a devout parent. No one believed that I could jettison the comfort of life under the umbrella of multinational company to explore and express my skills, talent and ingenuity in a start-up that was richly funded by ideas and zero capital”, the OMNL CEO says.
According to him, his decision to resign from Microsoft after a significant five years as public sector lead and business development manager Ghana was borne out of innate desire and conviction that customers fundamentally make their purchase decision based on ‘people’ not ‘brand.’
According to him, ”I built strong personal equity with clients that I interacted with. I consistently ensured honesty, transparency, infectious commitment and fanatically executed with excellence. It is these values that defined my work, the joy I derive by making positive and lasting impact in the lives of people and communities.”
He also says that, ”my greatest joy is the young top talents that Office Machines have attracted, groomed and nurtured over this six years period. Not only that we contribute in honing their skills and competencies but also we have increasingly helped in reducing unemployment, wealth creation and social transformation.”