Abuja — It has been proven and commonly accepted that information and communication technology (ICT) is the engine room of the 21st century and beyond as it charts the economic, religious, cultural, legal and social life of nations, particularly those of developing countries.
ICT has embedded itself deeply into the everyday life of people all over the world and Nigeria is not an exception, with millions of people, a higher percentage being the youth, accessing and using various facets of ICT such as computers, the internet, electronic mail and the world wide web (www) on a daily basis.
No doubt, ICT is a major driver of various sectors of development; the technology cuts across other sectors like the telecoms sub-sector, agriculture, medicine, oil and gas, banking, education, trade and investment and science amongst others.
Conscious of the importance of ICT in national development, the Federal Government has shown firm commitment to diversifying the economy by providing more infrastructure for ICT literacy to equip the massive youth population across the country with the requisite skills that can be deployed for transformation of various sectors of the economy.
One of such ventures is the on-going drive to convert the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), a subsidiary of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which is currently a Nigerian international centre for information and communications studies to a full blown ICT university.
This is even as the DBI Kano has been converted to innovation enterprise institute. The approval was conveyed to it by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Speaking at the maiden matriculation ceremony of DBI's national innovation diploma programme in Kano, the executive vice chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the matriculation of the 24 students into five specialized ICT's diploma programme was part of NCC's efforts to promote the adoption and use of ICT for national development.
Danbatta listed the specialized areas of the diploma programme to include software engineering, computer hardware engineering, networking and security, telecommunications and multimedia technology as approved by the National Board for Technical Education NBTE.
He said the programme was deliberately designed to offer a rich blend of the theoretical knowledge and practical skills by combining classroom work with intensive laboratory and workshop modules which would prepare and equip the students for direct entry into related fields of any university in the country.
According to him, "Nigeria is in dire need of ICT skills to solve the myriad of problems facing her agriculture, health, education, security, power and other sectors. This is the only way the country can become a mainstream player in the new digital age".
The EVC added: "The matriculation is in furtherance of our mandate to equip Nigerians in different fields of ICT, to which the institute was granted approval as an innovative enterprise institute by the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Board for Technical Education in 2016 to award National Innovation Diploma and these are the first set of students being matriculated for the 2016/2017 academic calendar".
He urged the matriculating students to embrace the opportunity of obtaining a certificate in National Innovation Diploma program seriously as they would be equipped with the required ICT knowledge and skills to perform optimally with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
Earlier, the executive governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said his administration would provide scholarship to 100 youths in the state to bridge the ICT gap, saying 60 males and 40 females would be the initial beneficiaries.
Ganduje lauded the NCC boss for considering Kano as one of the centres for this programme, saying the initiative of the NCC led by Danbatta resulting in the approval by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to make DBI, Kano campus as an innovation enterprise institute is highly commendable. The state, he said, would take advantage of that as part of efforts to promote ICT diffusion especially in the rural areas across the 44 local councils.
The Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, spoke in a similar way but appealed to the EVC and the governments at all levels to ensure there is sufficient investment in ICT infrastructure to promote access to ICT by the youth at the grassroots.
The Emir said, "There is no point getting a diploma in ICT if the only place you can operate is in the city centre;" adding "we need to have more people in the rural areas who can provide ICT services to the rural dwellers to achieve effective results"
The former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor said: "If the present administration is ready to achieve its change mantra, then there is need to also create the enabling environment for ICT investors to come to the rural areas because with the way things are going, the government and the informal sector cannot provide jobs for the population of about 170 million Nigerians but with the ICT field it is possible."
A statement by the commission's director of public affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, said the DBI administrator, Dr. Ike Adinde said the institute recorded milestones in the last two years with the support of the EVC. "We joined the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2015, becoming one of the six centres of excellence in Africa under the ITU ICT Academy Network.
"The institute's partnership with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB was expanded during the year as it provided technical assistance to the board in preparation for the recently concluded computer-based Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME)," it added.