It is hard to step into a great man’s shoes but the case at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) in Akwa Ibom State is a case of no shoe at all, that is why I will attempt to see some strategies we can use in surmounting the many challenges in MST.
Surmounting the many challenges in MST will imply leaving the past, and focusing on what lies ahead of us in the industry. The present commissioner for Science and Technology has a lot of work to do in boosting the confidence of young people in the tech industry.
First, there is the challenge of working with civil servants in the ministry. It is unfortunate that government employs her staff through certificates rather than skills obtained in related sector. This has reproduced a negative effect as witnessed in the ministry over the years.
My experience in the ministry has been in the aspect of convincing the permanent secretaries and directors on what is trending in the industry and how Akwa Ibom State government can key in, to tap the global opportunities that abound in the industry.
Lacking in knowledge of what is currently obtainable in the tech ecosystem, these civil servants will do anything to thwart the effort of any incumbent commissioner believing every commissioner in the ministry should leave the seat with the status quo.
TechForest Academy is where we hope to incubate and develop skills in the industry. You can read about Artificial Intelligence (AI) here.
This was the experience we had with the 1000 young people Governor Udom Emmanuel attempted to train in Oracle in his first term and many subsequent ideas that met with brick wall because the permanent secretaries and directors did not understand ‘how it works’.
Sadly, their own ideas never worked as the ministry is seen dormant over the years and confirmed by the same civil servants.
Next are the politicians. These are the most unfortunate set of people any state seeking development should have in their ecosystems. The Nigerian politicians seek nothing for the future but what should be killed and divided at the moment.
Unfortunately, what most of them see as long term investment is what can yield dividends if properly executed in the next few years and everyone including the career politicians will benefit.
The greatest weapon wielded by these set of people is blackmailing the appointees who is striving to do the right thing to the party hierarchy and the vision-less party leaders will look for a way to get the blackmail to His Excellency.
However, for the sake of the millions of young people who will leverage on what is established today in the ministry, the Hon. Commissioner should do everything to avoid distractions from these set of people.
For peace to reign therefore, the commissioner should only do his best to capture the interest of these assumed politicians while working for the future of Akwa Ibom youths in the ministry.
Then there is the challenge of ‘the status quo’ in the State. Before the arrival of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom was seen as a civil service state. Eight out of every ten successful persons in each family were either an ex civil servant or was once a government appointee.
The status quo is gradually changing but not without parents whose minds are fixed on civil service as the only route to prosperity, stopping their wards from seizing the opportunities tech offers.
Therefore the ability of the Hon. Commissioner to attract funding to the tech ecosystem will encourage parents to give out their wards for the building of the tech ecosystem in the State.
This is when various skills will be incubated and showcased, thereby attracting global attention to Akwa Ibom State. The power of collaboration.
Permit me to drop this lines as a missive to the Hon. Commissioner. There is so much funding for the development of the ecosystem. Google, IBM, Facebook and other established organisations world over are ready to tap into the high level of human resources Africa can provide. It is only when Akwa Ibom can key in to this global vision that the State can have the opportunity of attracting this funding.
Akwa Ibom can become a hub for tech incubation in Africa. A major step to end poverty and unemployment. Once again congratulations Sir. I wish you a resounding success as you take the tech ecosystem in the state to a greater height.