Pantami, Danbatta And The Imperative Of Effective Communication

Avid followers of the developments within the ICT industry in Nigeria, before June 5, 2020, were aware of the rather frosty relationship that existed between two key catalysts of the Digital Economy, to which Nigeria aspires, namely the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy(MOCDE), Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer(EVC/CEO) of telecommunications sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta. The bad optics and bizarre chemistry the misunderstanding between the duo created, was so open to deny the frosty relationship exited, would be serving the cause of some other discipline than journalism! But for the maturity that was allowed to walk into their relationship, both men could have, at worse, ended up being cut loose by their Principal, President Muhammadu Buhari or at best, be reassigned. A middle course scenario would be for both to retain their positions and be cautioned to play according to the rules in everything, etiquette, protocol, officialdom, et cetera, or risk being fired! In another advocacy, we cautioned against both men being sacked because of their rich value propositions to Nigeria, Nigerians and the world at large, that could not be mortgaged on the altar of hasty sack. Both men are lucky the third case scenario holds. In other climes, not many could be as lucky.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta …

The reappointment of Prof. Danbatta, on the recommendation of Dr. Pantami, it would seem, put paid to all traces of conflict between both digital economy catalysts. I personally salute the wisdom of President Buhari to retain them and the courage of both men to be reconciled and to elect to remain reconciled, without prejudice to all those who made invaluable input to get this state attained. Pantami said in a statement signed by his spokesperson Uwa Suleiman on June 5, he recommended Prof. Danbatta for reappointment as NCC’s boss in an effort to consolidate the gains made in the telecommunications sector, in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, while lacing it with a directive to significantly improve on the overall performance of the Commission as well as ensure that adequate mechanisms were put in place to facilitate the implementation of all policies of the Federal Government through the Ministry. Furthermore, Minister Pantami enjoined him to ensure that the interest of telecommunications consumers, Nigerians and investors were adequately protected, stated Suleiman.

Pantami while delivering his inauguration speech.
Dr. Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami

Being an actuality reporter, the sense I make of the frosty relationship that Pantami and Danbatta had before now that has thankfully evaporated, is that communication is critical, effective communication, I must add. Jaroslav Kelly captured this in The Democratic Journalist some decades ago when he wrote and I quote him partially: “At the dawn of the 20th Century…Communication is a decisive factor in today’s world.”
The author of The Art Of Communicating Effectively, J. Maurus says something similar: “The quality of our life is determined by the quality of our relationships. And communication is the key to relationships at all levels whether it is domestic, professional or social. Lack of communication has caused untold havocs in human history. Wars were waged, friendships were spoiled, marriages were broken and families were ruined for want of proper communication.”

Even among ICT reporters, there is a real or perceived strong feeling Minister Pantami is not reaching out to this constituency as he should, its developmental grandstanding, notwithstanding. Now, it would appear the chief digital economy crusader of Nigeria is listening. How do I mean?
My medium, Cyber Era( reported days back in Effective Communication Quest: Pantami Inaugurates Ministerial Inter-agency Committees On Completed Projects
: “In a bold step aimed at eliminating real or perceived communication gaps between his ministry and its stakeholders, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has inaugurated two inter-agency committees with the mandate to review, collate, commission and communicate in local languages Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects implemented for Nigerians under President Muhammadu Buhari….”

The two Ministerial committees namely Completed Projects Review Committee and Committee on Media Engagement in Local Languages, are chaired by the Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Ayuba Shuaibu and Director, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, respectively. Membership of the committees are drawn from all the five agencies supervised by the Ministry including NCC, NITDA, Galaxy Backbone, NIGCOMSAT and NIPOST.

It is heartwarming that Pantami now realizes the critical place of the press in communicating his Ministry’s programmes, activities and projects, and what’s more, doing this very effectively. My take is that this is a step in the right direction and must be sustained. It is important and, Pantami has seen it and would love to leverage the unprecedented synergy between the NCC and the Technology …Press, among others. My reading of the chemistry and optics within the MOCDE now is that the supervising Minister has identified that the Corporate Communications machinery of the Nigerian Communications Commission is top-notch and he has decided to position the agency as the driver of the corporate communications strategy of his ministry going forward. It is his entitlement, and he should enjoy it full crush, without modifying the independence of the regulator.

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