By Abdul-Azeez Suleiman
While good governance depends on building strong institutions that provide the framework for leaders to act in the public’s interest, it also depends on choosing competent and trustworthy individuals who have the strength of character to uphold the values of the institutions in the first place.
Since 1999, less attention has been paid to ‘who’ becomes a political leader, particularly the quality of people elected as members of the Local Government Council, State Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate, as well as those elected as Governors and the President and most critically those appointed to sensisitive positions.
As a result of our failure to elect political leaders and demand appointment of individuals who are competent and honest, we end up with officials who choose to undermine our institutions’ integrity for self-dealing and personal gain.
But as we have been taught, to every rule, there is an exception. This applies to English Language, Mathematics, Science etc. and likewise, there should be an exception to this leadership pandemic.
Among this very few is Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, a renowned Islamic scholar, new generation politician currently serving as Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.
Pantami is the first Minister of Communications and Digital Economy after the re-designation of the Ministry’s name to include responsibilities for creating and formulating policies for a sustainable Digital Economy for Nigeria.
He has hitherto received an award as the “ICT Promoter of the Year 2017” in London by The Nigerian in recognition of positive contributions to the ICT revolution in Nigeria, youth empowerment & good governance.
Less than 3 years of his stewardship, he has received over 110 awards and recognitions both within and outside Nigeria.
Under his supervision, the growth rate of the ICT sector rose to 14.70% in the 4th Quarter of 2020 making it the best performing sector of the economy that contributed to Nigeria’s exit from recession. This is 4 times more than the Agriculture Sector which came next with a growth rate of 3.42%.
Pantami also received special commendation from the president of the federal republic of Nigeria,, Muhammadu Buhari over the enrollment of over 12 million Nigerians into the National Identity Database within 6 months.
As Communication and Digital Economy Minister, the first technological leap taken by Pantami to drastically alter the course of the decade old insurgency as well as checkmate the rising tide of insecurity across the country.
Leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to fight insecurity and improve safety of lives and properties in the country, Pantami commissioned the first Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) and launched the emergency call number 112 in Katsina State on Monday, September 23, 2019.
This marked the beginning of the commissioning of other ECCs all over the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where calls to the 112 emergency number will terminate and routed appropriately.
The ECC projects which are being implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with counterpart support of respective state governments was conceived to enhance the security of lives and property of Nigerian people.
Other things being equal, such leaders as Pantami who pay attention to public opinion, will always be better able to understand the groups they are trying to influence and better equipped to communicate overall across generations.
An accurate personification of the organic links between generations, Sheikh Pantami has been able to blend conveniently with the tradition of the old North and at the same time remaining available for young people.
In Pantami, the new generation of Nigerians have a great statesman, a mentor, a guardian, a living history and an embodiment of all the exemplary qualities they should strive to achieve.
(Suleiman, a journalist, writes from Abuja)