The 2005 edition of the Nigerian Internet Convention, hosted by the Nigerian Internet Group, started when the compere, Don Pedro Agabi (ace ICT journalist and TV presenter) welcomed everyone and introduced the distinguished guests. The occupiers of the high tale included Dr. Gabriel Obi(former CPN boss), Mr. Chris Uwaje (“oracle of the industry”), Mrs. Osofisan (CPN President), Engr. Olawale Ige (former telecommunications minister), Engr. Iromantu (ex-NCC EVC), Alhaji Ladi Ogunneye (ex-NCS President), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem (NIG President), Dr. Chris Nwannena (NCS President), and Engr. Lanre Ajayi (NIG Vice President).
Engr. Olawale Ige delivered the opening remarks, in his capacity as chairman of the day. Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwen (host of the day) delivered the welcome address, hitting hard on the fact that not empowering young people would be equal to mortgaging the future — producing idle, hopeless, desperate, unemployed and devil-friendly young people. He spoke on the need to address, arrest and redress the problem of youth restiveness, through the potentials of ICTs. “What are the sources of inspiration of today’s generation?”, he asked. While expressing the apologies of the invited ministers (whose absence were quoted as related to “flight-phobia”), he challenged the distinguished speakers for the day to help give direction to today’s youth. He stated that he is “fired by a sense of urgency to address youth restiveness”. He hinted that most young criminals are products of a “misdirected expression of self preservation within a state that has failed them”, and that there is almost no motivation for graduates who keep “roaming the streets for years after graduation — unemployed due to lack of jobs, or unemployable”. He concluded by challenging stakeholders (including the Nigeria Computer Society) to ensure that their curriculum encourages the need to equip students with computers and internet access. He also called for the establishment of resource centers across higher institutions, Information Technology laboratories across secondary schools, a National Youth Attachment for Skill Acquisiton (NYASA), and a pico-credit scheme (of as little as fifty thousand naira) that can help create 200,000 jobs per quarter.
The first goodwill message was delivered by Dr. Chris Nwannena, who spoke on NCS’ approach to youth restiveness which included the empowerment of the student body, NACOSS. He praised the increasing maturity of the students at IT events, while speaking on the recognitrion of talents through the students’ software exhibition and competition. The next goodwill message came from Dr. (Mrs) Osofisan, who expressed delight at the theme for the year’s event and stated that “one day, all of us will leave the stage and it is in iur own interest to ensure that we bring those who will take over from us properly”. She stated that even though CPN can not register young people (students particularly) as professionals, the organisation is already in talks with universities in order to give students the best they can get in Information Technology. She also touched on CPN’s role as guards of the Nigerian professionals such that local content (ensuring that “local” talents are not sidelined) is assured in the industry. The President of NACOSS, Olusegun Olutayo, delivered the next goodwill message and thanked the NIG for pitching its tent with young people — and he also hinted on the twin problems of curriculum relevance and capacity building. The media (represented by the compere) attempted to announce an intervention — through a nation-wide ICT Penetration Assessment — but were cautioned by the CPN to get approval before the project’s take-off.
Presentations for the day started with Engr. Iromantu’s “Human Capacity Building”. He spoke about utilising ICTs in education; to help improve curriculum, animate knowledge delivery and improve learning efficiency. Dr. Gabriel Obi continued with his presentation on “Security”, before which he warned that students must note that tertiary intitutions prepare you to fish, and not catch cat fish — hinting on the need to improve one’s self. He defined security in terms of systems and noted that the new paradigm for securing systems is survivability (survivability recognition, resistance, recovery and adaptation) — which IT has borrowed from immunology and biology. Attack sophistication is on the rise because there are tools that can help even novices engage in massive attacks on systems. He ended his presentation by throwing the challenge to young people: security specialists are needed (job/career opportunities) — with specialisation including forensics, cryptography/cryptoanalysis, information security analyst, red team member, information systems’ auditor, recovery specialts, administrator and virus professional. Vintage Chris Uwaje was next, and he spoke on the need for Nigerian youths to become globally competitive. He spoke on the need for young people to chose to strategically focus — with an example of choosing an area of expertise within the IT landscape and focusing on that within 24 months. He also spoke on the need for proper mentorship, hinting that young Nigerians must learn the ropes of Information Technology from the elders. He challenged young Nigerians to take leadership in the “positive summersault” that Nigeria very much needs! He stressed on the need to follow the path described by innovation, planning, design, building and maintenance.
The second day of the NIC started with introduction of guests and speakers by Mr. Alao (NIGOL MD) who then invited the compere (Don Pedro) to take charge of activities. After reminding participants of the activities of the first day, he invited ‘Gbenga Sesan (sounds funny addressing myself that way, unh) for the first presentation. The presentation, titled, WANTED: Heroes challenged young people to take advantage of ICTs to improve the quality of their lives; and more importantly, ensure that their career path is properly planned in order to avoid becoming subjects of an uncertain system. He ended by stating that, “If heroes would only come by natural selection (birth, background, connection), then you can as well give up. Heroes are made â€“ having compared their yesterday with the tomorrow they desire, heroes strive today even when all others are busy waiting for help. He also listed some ICT opportunities that are boundless for todayâ€™s youth: online resources (MIT OCW â€“ http://ocw.mit.edu), research opportunities (Google IT!), communication (Skype and its VOIP relatives), mentorship (PAâ€™s may not allow you, eMail will), networking (like minds on mailing lists and among student /youth groups), relevant information (fresh, relevant and tailored), content push (start a blog, set up a website), and career guide (relevant biographies, dedicated guides). After the presentation, the compere announced that the presentation will be available on the NIG website.
The next presentation was delivered by Olusegun Olutayo (NACOSS President), who spoke about the activities of the student association while stating that young people have a lot to offer. He hinted on the need to keep young people’s hands busy and ended with the challenge of reviewing the curriculum used in computer science education. Destiny Amana was next, and he spoke on “How to Make Money Online”. In his eye-opening presentation, he defined the internet and eBusiness, and spoke about the “Dot.com” bubble. He spoke about the need for young people to follow up on their creative ideas, and that the steep entrance curve of registration and start-up cost need not keep them from implementation. He stated that with eBusiness , size does not matter, start-up cost is minimal, location does not matter, market is open to all and in all countries, business is open and accessible 24 hours, low overheads, better customer relations, opens the market to other businesses, brings you up to speed with competitors, helps clients make more informed business decisions, and ethical cost cutting is possible. He listed a few ideas that could be followed up on in the area of eBusiness: tourism, hospitality, trade knowledge, and more. After the presentations, the President of NIG introduced the NIG board of trustees and hinted on the proceedings of the AGM and elections later in the day. He also did a great job at summarising the presentations of the morning, hinting that everyone needs a PhD to succeed — Prayers, Hardwork and Discipline! He also dropped a new word for the participants: “digizen”, as citizens of the digital society (since “citizen” comes from occupiers of cities). Mr. Chima (Linkserve founder) also added his voice to the NIG President’s by advising young people to work hard, while also stating that he will be glad to mentor young people who are interested in ICT ventures.
The NIG AGM commenced after a brief break that was mostly utilised for networking and campaigns (coming from individuals seeking elective offices within the NIG). The NIG President delivered his report, in which he highlighted the activities of the NIG for the year and spoke extensively on the need for the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA) establishment process to be sped up. He also lent his voice to the need for the establishment of student chapters of the group, and elections followed. The new President of the Nigerian Internet Group is Engr. Lanre Ajayi, CEO of PINET and former Vice President of NIG. The new Vice President is Mrs Ufoma Daro, PR Head, Linkserve. The meeting ended on a great note, and various post-meeting discussions revealed that a lot of the NIG’s attention will be focused on youth in the coming year — which is a welcome development. Who knows, the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network (spanning all levels of education and disciplines for young Nigerians with interest in ICTs) may just be hosted by the NIG!