On Monday the 28th of May 2018, my attention was drawn to a press statement released by the information unit of the Ministry of Science and Technology addressed as above. Ordinarily, I would have discarded the press release as blackmail against my person and a strategy by the ministry leadership to coerce me to submission and overlook the effect of the various deficiencies plaguing the present leadership in the ministry led by Professor Nse Essien on the collective future of our youths.
For the sake of those who might have been deceived by such ill-conceived press release as broadcasted on State owned channels and a few hirelings whose future depends on the maximum 10,000 naira gift from the commissioner, I would like to respond as follows and pray the said news media uses the content in this release to rescind the falsehood they have peddled against my person ignorantly in the last couple of days:
- That I have never in my life paraded myself as a journalist within or outside Akwa Ibom State and have never attempted any qualification for such claims. But like the medieval writers I have decided to deploy my writing skills to checkmate the thoughtlessness of the leadership of the Ministry of Science and Technology which I know will rob our children of the opportunities tech offers in the 21st century. Therefore, I consider it libelous for the Ministry to tag me a journalist even when I have openly told the Honourable Commissioner in the presence of Dayeabasi Godsien (his former Information Officer) sometimes in 2017 that I was NOT a journalist but rather, a columnist.
- That I am a trained Digital Marketer and have undergone various training on content development and strategizing. Having obtained the requisite knowledge in advertising and content creation with requisite certifications in ICT, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) registered the first Digital Marketing Company in Akwa Ibom State for which I am the founder and CEO. This feat qualifies me as a stakeholder in tech and its related businesses. Therefore as one involved in ICT driven tech business, I only employ these skills in columns, which, the untrained view as journalism.
- That I am a holder of Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) from Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), where I graduated under the department of Electrical Electronics Engineering with option in Communication Engineering Technology in 2009/2010 session and not a diploma holder from International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).
- That I carried out a project successfully in the Design, Creation and Implementation of Multimedia Application using Java Technology submitted to the Department of Electrical Electronics Engineering in FUTO, 8 years before the hotels.ng internship program in 2017.
- That I had my first certification in Computer Programming and Operations from Obafemi Awolowo University Consultancy Service Centre, located then at the last floor of no. 2 Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo. (Diploma) in 1999. And have since then been practicing in the industry being a Manager at UNFACO Computers, Onne, Eleme LGA of Rivers State and Secretary, Afrocommerce W.A Ltd in Port Harcourt between the year 2000 and 2005 before returning to FUTO for a degree program in Communication Engineering under the department of Electrical Electronics Engineering.
- That I have handled various ICT projects and trainings in Akwa Ibom State, Rivers and Imo State while in school including but not limited to the development of the defunct NUJ website from scratch to completion which Mr. Joseph Robert, the Information Officer in the Ministry presently is aware of.
- That the statement by Mr. Robert that I am only a yesterday trainee who just graduated from the hotels.ng internship is insulting and libelous to my person owing to the fact that I will be celebrating my 20th year in the industry on the 19th of August, 2019.
- That I undertook the said internship by hotels.ng to reinvigorate my expertise in content development and to test my ability in learning new skills in the industry.
- That I have never approached the Honourable Commissioner for financial assistance but for payment on SERVICES done for the ministry. A visit to techforest.ng will show the various articles written with the view of promoting the local industry in the State. It is on record that the Ministry of Science and Technology under the present leadership has never paid from Government funds, despite the receipt of same from Government treasury for the hotels.ng programme nor made recommendations of same, rather, the programme was wholly sponsored by hotels.ng.
- That Prof. Nse Essien, the Hon. Commissioner for Science and Technology has never told me that payment for services rendered to the ministry were bribes to induce silence on perceived non-performance, and I never assumed that a public officer can seek to willfully induce silence on his various failings in the ministry. I am traumatized by the press release taking into consideration the deep sated implications of these allegations for the conscience of society and the prospects that ICT holds respecting the future of our youths.
- That in the course of tech practice in the ecosystem, several complaints arose in the ecosystem for which I received the mandate of the ecosystem to interface with the Honourable Commissioner with a view to amicable resolution. I personally sought audience with the Honorable Commissioner, only for the Commissioner to ask me to go and publish whatever I like as he was not willing to discuss with me as the media wing of the ecosystem. That act shut the door of the ministry to ideas from the ecosystem for which I was merely a medium.
- That while the Ministry attempts to drag me into the bad books of Governor Udom Emmanuel, it is pertinent to note that it is my faith in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s 5 point agenda that has sparked my interest in drawing the governor’s attention to the seeming sleepy attitude of the Commissioner and his ill trained advisers in this regards.
- That it is inimical to the interest of the State to join Governor Udom Emmanuel as if he were the author of the breach in the ecosystem rather than pointedly addressing the failing State of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Information Officer through the instruction of his Boss now seeks to subvert my articles that sincerely merely seek to draw the governor’s attention to the needs of the ecosystem which we believe is not properly addressed by the Honourable Commissioner.
- That I challenge the Hon. Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Robert and the Permanent Secretary to give us links to their ICT projects and the publication of their profiles in the IT industry for the general public to judge if they have the pedigree to challenge my views in the industry.
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- That I further challenge that the handlers of ICT in the Ministry present 4 blank computers – for me and the three signatories of the ill-informed press release in the ministry to engage in a 3 hour challenge at any location to determine capacity and competence in ICT development in that challenge, create a simple web application using html and css for the assessment.
- That Mr. Joseph Robert’s vendetta on my person is a carryover animosity for the deployment of my digital marketing capacity in projecting the present leadership in NUJ which is vision driven thus culminating in his defeat during the NUJ Chairmanship elections in 2016. Further, Mr. Robert hurriedly issued the press statement even when he knew that I managed the NUJ ICT Resource Centre 3 years before the hotels.ng internship program. Of course, he is also aware that I designed, hosted and managed the defunct NUJ website 4 years before the said internship program.
- That no threat from any quarters or any ill-advised team will deter me from drawing the governor’s attention to a near abandoned sector that has capacity to completely engage all our jobless youths, create wealth and change the economic landscape of Akwa Abasi Ibom State.
- That I have strong faith in Governor Udom Emmanuel as an ex bank director who knows the advantage of investing rightly in this sector. Therefore, I welcome with open arms the Information Officer’s orchestrated media war with the Ministry leadership excluding in totality the office of the Executive Governor since I am convinced that my demands are on the path of justice. And that the present leadership in the ministry seems to aim at nothing but mortgaging our collective future in the industry for their immediate personal gains.
- That tagging an industrious son of the state “hungry” by the ministry after three years of this administration confirms the insidious war some members of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s cabinet are waging against His Excellency since such comment leaves the general public with questions on the governor’s campaign promises.
- That the future of our youths stands more important at this time when ICT is taking over every facet of life and that the Ibom e-library should be open to more IT Firms as work spaces to enable the training of more youths in the industry within the governor Udom Emmanuel’s industrialization dream.
- That it is worrisome that the Ministry of Science and Technology leadership still uses the age-long strategy of giving a dog a bad name to hang it in attacking my person rather than the issues I have raised in the said articles. This clearly shows how genuine the intentions of those who are in authority are as regards the development of the tech ecosystem in the state. And that the call for proper funding of entrepreneurs in an administration who promised entrepreneurship a facelift becomes blackmail is what have left me in awe for the past couple of days.
- That the commissioner and his corrupt civil servants should know that it is amoral to cage the future of the industry in the State for their immediate benefits. And that as a founder of a Digital Marketing Company in the ecosystem, I will continue to ring this bell in body and spirit despite their intimidation.
I wish all Akwa Ibom sons at home and in diaspora a peaceful stay as we work together to build a strong and reliable ecosystem in Akwa Ibom State. Ubong Nsekpong Founder, TechForest SoftTechnologies Ltd