President Muhammadu Buhari has stopped the takeover of three technology agencies, National Informational Technology Development Agency NITDA); Galaxy Backbone Limited and Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT), by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
Technology Times can exclusively confirm that the Presidency’s stance is that status quo should be maintained following Science and Technology Ministry’s request to have the three tech agencies of government transferred from their current supervisory Ministry, the Ministry of Communication.
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology’s insistence that the three agencies brought under its administrative supervision had sparked a major turf battle between the two Federal Ministries over who controls information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology’s insistence that the three agencies brought under its administrative supervision had sparked a major turf battle between it and Ministry of Communication.
People conversant with developments inside Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power told Technology Times that the Presidency says that instead of the needless turf battle sparked by the Ministerial oversight over ICT sector in Nigeria and control of the plum tech agencies, the Ministry of Science and Technology should concentrate its attention on 17 agencies focused on research and development ( R&D) agencies currently on its watch.
The Ministry of Science and Technology had wanted NITDA, the IT industry oversight agency; NIGCOMSAT, the government-owned communications satellite service provider and Galaxy Backbone Limited, the IT services provider agency of Federal Government, transferred from the Ministry of Communication, and brought under its control in addition to the R&D agencies under its supervisory umbrella.
If the Science and Technology Ministry’s request were granted, it would have left its Communications Ministry with oversight over only NIPOST, the government owned postal services company and the virtually autonomous telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The move was to spark a major turf battle between the two Ministries and also sparked a series of strongly-worded government memos and tension between the two Ministries and their Ministers, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu of Science and Technology and Barrister Adebayo Shittu of Communications.
The Presidency’s position has also been communicated to the respective Ministries and their Ministers through an Executive Council Memo dated April 6, 2017 communicating the decision of the Federal Executive Council, sighted by Technology Times that held that agencies under watch of the Ministry of Communication should be kept separate from the Ministry of Science and Technology, if Nigeria must harness the potentials of ICT.
Toward resolving the issue of Ministerial oversight of the Nigerians ICT Sector, the Presidency directed that, “the mandate to drive information technology given to the Ministry of Communications was a deliberate decision of Government to create a specialised sector to leverage the emerging potentials in ICT and this should be kept separate from the MS&T (Ministry of Science & Technology), in accordance with global best practices and the wishes of ICT professional bodies in Nigeria.