The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami has tasked the board and management staff of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited to make the institution productive and effective or risk privatisation or outright scrapping.
The minister, who was speaking during a one-day ministerial retreat for board and management staff of NIGCOMSAT themed “Re-Engineering NIGCOMSAT Management for 4th Industrial Revolution and Exponential Growth” today (January 27, 2023) in Abuja, maintained that the productivity and performance of a company justifies its protection by government.
He noted that the over 800-page Oransanye report of 2012 recommended the merging and scrapping 106 Federal Government institutions.
Pantami posited that the recommendation was based on the performance of the said agencies.
According to him, while agencies of government seen to be very productive are given more tasks and responsibilities, those considered unproductive were recommended for merger or total scrapping as the case may be.
‘‘If we can turn things around and make our institution very productive and effective, there is no way government can think of scrapping or merging our institutions.
“NITDA was recommended to be scrapped but, today, the way NITDA has performed, government is not talking about scrapping NITDA or merging NITDA; rather, government is talking about adding more responsibilities to the agency.
“If NIGCOMSAT fails to utilise this opportunity, i don’t think there would be anytime it can do so,” he stated.
The minister added that the new NIGCOMSAT MD was appointed from the private sector because most government staff are used to the business-as-usual mentality and often hide under unionism to escape being punished for their misdemeanors.
Pantami, who lamented that civil servants are using unions to intimidate the government, clarified that he is not “under unionism”, as he has been a member of several unions. He, however, stressed that unions should not be used as cover to protect wrongdoings but to seek and get justice for government and unionists too.
‘’Civil servants are the engine of government. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, [the] reverse is the case. Sometimes, civil servants will not be supportive; they use their unions to intimidate government.
‘‘With all the resources the country is endowed with, the private sector controls the economy, government institutions usually find it difficult to turn things around and think out of the box.
‘‘Today, if you look at the National aggregate demand, with all the resources, the private sector controls more than 92 percent. The entire Federation revenue is less than eight per cent of our national aggregate demand because people in government find it difficult to turn things around.
‘’Any policy introduced is mostly abused. There are so many important laws in Nigeria but in the course of implementation, instead of making use of them positively, they sometimes become a challenge. ‘’
Earlier, the NIGCOMSAT MD, Engr. Tukur Lawal described the retreat as very apt, saying it provides the context for deliberations which will sharpen the organisation’s perspectives as it gets to grips with the issues around NIGCOMSAT Ltd.
“Furthermore, I see the outcome of this retreat as a primary requirement for me as I roll out my plan for the organisation. When l arrived at NIGCOMSAT Ltd. as the new managing director, l met a willing team [of] professionals in their different endeavors willing and waiting to be led. I was encouraged by their zeal. Yes, like all organisations, NIGCOMSAT Ltd. has its teething problems but the problems are not insurmountable. With encouragement of this nature, we are on a sure path to chat a better direction for the company. As a private sector manager of human and material resources, my desire is to nudge NIGCOMSAT Ltd unto the path of profitability,” he said.
Lawal thanked the minister for finding him worthy to be at the head of such an important and critical asset as NIGCOMSAT Ltd, adding though the task ahead of the company is daunting, it is poised for a new phase with the minister’s support and the team on ground at the organisation.
He harped on the need for the launch of NigComSat 2, but conceded that it is a daunting task to deploy foreign satellites in the Nigerian space.
“With less than four years to de-orbit the present satellite (NigComSat 1R), the need to fast track and quickly ensure an additional satellite in the country’s space industry cannot be overemphasised.
“More importantly, l wish to appeal to the minister to facilitate an enabling ACT through the National Assembly that will not only protect but position us on the pedestal to realise the organisation’s vision, before he leaves office.
“The ACT is to give us leverage in the available market atmosphere, especially those of government and the private sector.The satellite market in Africa and Nigeria particular is large enough and NIGCOMSAT cannot be left out. The launch of NigComSat 2 will further boost our confidence and strength the market,” he reasoned.
In his remarks, the board chairman, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Arc. Yusuf Kazaure posited that while most of the developing world grapples with the Third Revolution, the rest of the world has moved on to the 4th Revolution that has exposed the need for new skills in management and leadership.
“Today, the world is coming to grips with the realities of the emergence of a new world order characterised by a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing and other advanced technologies.
“This is the 4th Industrial Revolution which builds on the foundations of the first three revolutions, namely the steam engine, the age of science and mass production and the rise of digital technology.
He restated that the retreat presents a great opportunity to learn about 4IR from Prof Pantami who, despite his very tight schedules as the minster of communications and digital economy, has found the time to interact with us on this subject.
“We appreciate that such an opportunity to learn does not come along often.
“I, therefore, enjoin all of us to pay maximum attention as the proceedings of this retreat will form a foundation for our proposed board /management in few weeks time and chart a road map for NIGCOMSAT for the years to come,” he added.