President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Communications Technology to work harder to fully develop the revenue-generation potential of Nigeria’s information technology sector.
Speaking after receiving a briefing from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, on Tuesday, President Buhari also directed the ministry to bring forward all pending proposals for the development of the nation’s IT sector which required the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
President Buhari welcomed the plan by the Ministry to use post-offices across Nigeria for IT and financial transactions, especially in the rural communities, saying that he was happy to hear that “we are recovering our post offices from rats and rodents”.
The President also asked for a comprehensive report on the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunications Company (NITEL).
He said the continued protests of former NITEL employees and other Nigerians over the manner in which assets of the company were sold were worrisome.
The ministry’s presentation to the President dwelled heavily on the potential of the IT sector which, Dr. Olaopa said was contributing 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, GDP, but could grow to 20 per cent if some proposals by the ministry were approved and implemented.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, Dr Olaopa said that President Buhari expressed concerns about the quality of service that Nigerians were receiving, regarding telecommunication operators.
“The President offered that he is very concerned about the whole issue of double taxation and right of way. That it is hindering investment in ICT infrastructure and that he will personally champion this.
“He was stunned about the potential of the sector to generate revenue, looking at some unharnessed sources of revenue which he wanted us to bring up quickly so that we can run with it,” he said.
He stressed that the President was not opposed to the privatisation of NITEL, but explained that he wanted a briefing memo on how the privatisation was undertaken to be sure that Nigeria was not short-changed.