Nigeria: Minister Urges Nigerian Youth to Prioritise ICT Skills Over University Degree

21 January 2020

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has urged Nigerian youth to give priority to acquiring information technology skills over having university degrees.

Mr Pantami gave the advice on Monday while commissioning a community information technology centre in Hadejia Local Government Area of Jigawa State.

The minister said Nigerian youth are innovative and possess good ideas and skills, saying that is the reason the Federal Government is establishing community information technology centres across the country.

He said the centres would help the youth to acquire digital literacy and skills.

"Digital skills should have priority over even University degrees and certificates. If a student can acquire a certificate and skills married together, that is the best. But if the student graduates from university with only one, it is better to have skills than a certificate," Mr Pantami said.

The minister said the digital economy is all about skills rather than university degrees. He illustrated his argument with the story of the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who he said displaced Bill Gates as the world richest person for three years through digital literacy.

He, however, acknowledged that Mr Gates later regained the position after his company, Microsoft, won $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract, beating off competition from Mr Bezos's Amazon.

Mr Pantami also urged Nigerian youth to use their digital skills in making money instead of spreading fake news and promoting disunity.

The minister's remarks were greeted with loud cheers at the event attended by hundreds of residents.

The federal government through the community information technology centres hopes to identify the brilliant youth with innovative ideas to be supported to put the ideas to use, the minister said.

The centres, piloted in Jigawa, Gombe and Rivers states, were constructed and equipped by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) with the aim to diversify the nation's economy through digital literacy and skills.

'A living testimony'

The host governor, Muhammad Badaru, a businessman before venturing into politics, said business is more profitable and less risky with digital skills.

Mr Badaru said with digital literacy, he now manages his businesses around the globe from his sitting room, adding that information technology is the best business the state is committed toward.

He said the state government with the support of the emirate council would ensure the sustainability of the centre.

He said the government wants to take the state into the digital world through the development of digital skills and knowledge.

"I can even donate my office for the sake of digital economy literacy," the governor said.

However, despite Mr Badaru's remarks, PREMIUM TIMES found that three major places where youth access free internet services have not been providing the services since June last year.

It is not clear whether this is due to a technical issue, but critics of Mr Badaru said the government refused to settle the internet charges.

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