On Wednesday, May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for a second term. The relatively slow key decision-maker in Nigeria can be expected to announce his cabinet in a month or two if things are speedy.
A critical cabinet position would be that of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister. ICT is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, contributing more than the oil sector to the nation's GDP. According to Q2 2018 data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), ICT contributed 11.81% compared to 8.55% from Oil.
Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu (rudely known as B…shittu) has been a disaster of a minister. He's probably more famous for squabbling with his aides and jousting with the outgoing Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi than doing the actual work of an ICT minister. Take, for instance, Shittu has not made one major policy decision since being appointed as a minister. Also, no known progress on the proposed ICT universities.
Well, away from Shittu unto potential candidates that would probably do a better job. They are no new faces to tech in Nigeria; in fact, many of them are seasoned entrepreneurs.
Sim has had substantial experience in the Nigerian startup space, with Konga and several other firms. He also appears to be level-headed and serves as a mentor to many young folks in the ICT space. While he is unlikely to take the job (since he’s busy with a new startup), one hopes he will help in an advisory capacity.
Second comings are often horrible (ask Jose Mourinho or Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala). Ms Johnson’s conduct as ICT minister during the Goodluck Jonathan regime was, however commendable. Her career moves after also show she is quite cerebral (way better than the current minister in office). She is also likely to turn it down but would be a good fit.
While Ernest Ndukwe worked mainly with the NCC, his experience would be a good fit as communications are a prominent part of Nigeria’s ICT industry. It is highly unlikely he will accept the job (board positions are more lucrative and less headache). It would be nice to find someone in his mould. This government has shown a tendency to hound business (case in point, the Yellow guys 👀).
Iyin "E" Aboyeji
E has had two successful runs as a startup founder. Passionate and creative, he would be a good fit. Let's have t-shirts and jeans in the office, rather than Agbadas hiding pot bellies. It is highly unlikely E will scale the process, much less get nominated. His deep roots in the Nigerian ICT space and links in the valley would make him a great fit. Also, E has shown interest in Politics. In the recently concluded Nigerian Presidential elections, he was on Madam Oby Ezekwesili's campaign team.
Jason will not take the job. I know. Let a man dream, though. His experience with Iroko (thriving) and Iroking (failed) place him at a vantage position. Love him or hate him (you would have valid reasons for both), you can't deny the man is intelligent and shoots straight.
One might argue that Interswitch has become an elephant in the room, but you can't deny it's one of the few well-run and living ICT elephants in the country. Will he take the position if offered? Unlikely. If he can have just 10% of the success, he's had running Interswitch as a minister. The country would be better for it.
Leo Stan Ekeh
I put Leo Stan at the bottom of my list because he's also another elephant in the room. Again, love him or hate him (you have valid reasons for both). He would, however, get the job done. Having dealt with the government for quite a while, he will be able to navigate the banana peels that come with holding political office. Leo Stan has extensive experience across all segments in the ICT space, from distributing ICT products, OEM, a failed experience with e-commerce, and a second try with Yudala (now Konga). He's highly unlikely to take the job if offered but would do a way better job than the current occupant.
What do you think?