At the sidelines of a five-day capacity training workshop for Journalists, under the platform of the National Information Technology Reporters Association, beginning October 19, 2021, majorly sponsored by the National Information Technology Development Agency, at Radisson Hotel, Ikeja, south west, Nigeria, MUHAMMED AZEEZ ADEKUNLE tells Clifford Agugoesi, Digital Economy will amount to a pipe-dream without Digital Journalism.
CYBER ERA NG: Could you introduce yourself to our audience and share with them how you came to be associated with this capacity building workshop for journalists, mainly sponsored by NITDA .
MUHAMMED AZEEZ ADEKUNLE: Thank you very much for the privilege. My name is Muhammed Azeez Adekunle. I am an engineer, an instructor/trainer, a certified instructor trainer and a lecturer. I started my career as far back as 10 years ago, when I began as a self-trained computer engineer. Along the way, I went to university; I finished university with Computer Engineering as the first degree and Computer Science as the second degree. I worked in the IT industry for four and a half years, before I moved into academics. Apparently, this is not my first training; I have been having series of trainings. I have been travelling from one place to another to have trainings. I have travelled to virtually all the regions of the country and thank God, I have the privilege to be the facilitator for this wonderful training.
CEN: Tell us more about the training.
MAA: The training started on Monday, October 19, 2021. NITDA organized the training in order to help technology journalists under the auspices of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association(NITRA) to be more aware of what Digital Economy is and how they can fit in as journalists. Let me start from the first day of the training; we discussed something on Digital Economy which is the way the world is going now and why Nigeria should not be left out of the campaign. If we look at it critically, gone are the days that everybody relied on oil business, but nowadays, all the countries are diversifying their sources of income from Oil & Gas …to the Digital World, especially, the developed countries like China and Japan. If you look at it very well, you can see that this is the kind of training we should be seeing in our environment these days. Since we want the journalists to be digitally literate, we have to encourage them by organizing this kind of training. Thank God, NITDA came on board… to organize this kind of training. It has been a wonderful training because, on the second day of the training, we had something that was amazing, all of the groups had a presentation on podcasts and transcription and we know that this is where journalism and journalists are moving into now. If you look at the Media Industry, it is apparently working towards making everything to be digital, unlike the olden days that the focus was more on analogue. Digital is the new language that is taking shape. The third day was a wonderful day for me; I will never forget the day, because, the issue we focused on was my area of specialization-Cybersecurity, so I took the session with passion! I was really amazed with the kind of reactions that I got from the audience. The journalists really contributed to the session and they made the session very very easy for me. It was a wonderful experience for me, because, everybody is trying to be engaged in cyber security. There is no way anybody would claim they don’t have a mobile phone, a laptop or any other device to connect to the internet. The same way we are moving into the internet, we also need to think about protection on the internet. You can’t just move into the internet without thinking of the way to secure ourselves on the internet. We are talking of the Digital Economy so we have to marry the two together…If we are moving our economy online, we need to also talk about the security of all of our activities online.
CEN: Let’s pause you here and ask, from your perspective, what the cybersecurity challenge in this country(Nigeria) is like?
MAA: Apparently, I always like to use the instance of what happened recently in Nigeria when COVID-19 came on board, combined with the #ENDSARS period. We could definitely see that a lot of things that we were trying to do then was online and if, paraventure, there was nothing like digital, we would never have found them easier to do. Perhaps, there is need for us to engage ourselves in digital experience, because that period was so difficult for people to adapt to the situation, because nobody expected that COVID-19 was coming! So It was so difficult for people to fit in, but because of the level of digital literacy of the people, people had been trying to address the challenge. Look at the instance of virtual meetings people were having , look at the instance of webinars people were having; if you look at it properly, these helped and are still helping a lot and benefit the society . As much as I know, journalists play a major role in projecting this knowledge, but to be able to disseminate the right kind of knowledge and awareness, they have to be properly trained so that by the time they see something online, they would definitely know how to check them up if they are true or false. Look at the instance of Google Lens that you can use to check any image being posted online, there are so many images that are causing havoc in the country. People will just snap one image and post online; they will start projecting it and this is capable of causing problems in the country. Technology has given a room for us to check these kind of images to ascertain their authenticity. This way, we can easily reduce the rate of crimes and criminality in our country, like the so-called Yahoo-Yahoo boys! So, we also have to engage, we have to move with this train so that we are not left out of the trend of things.
CEN: Talk to us briefly about your company and the kind of engagements you are pursuing by way of partnerships.
MAA: I am so happy to introduce to us the company I started sometime ago with my friends. I am the CEO of the company and we boast of a lot of talented people alongside with me, the Director, the Managing Director, we all graduated from the same university and interestingly, one of us is in the United Kingdom pursuing his PhD. Currently, I am also running another postgraduate programme. One of us again is also running a postgraduate programme. So, we have a pool of well talented people in this company. The company is called AZNet Global Limited. The aim of the company is to render IT services to the general public, be it governmental or non governmental organisations. So we have some many things that we do. We are into software development, network configuration, network maintenance, network troubleshooting, network installation and we also train. We majorly base our activities on training. We train people who want to get involved in IT, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and networking or software part. We train people on artificial intelligence and other technologies as well.
CEN: Go through the 5-day programme and tell us what in your estimation, was the most startling aspect of this training.
MAA: Wow! That’s a very interesting question. I think I noticed, out of the five days, the day I found most interesting was the day we had group presentation. It turned out to be the most amazing period of the training for me, because, I got far more than I expected. The journalists presented well; they did wonderfully well and they showed me that they truly learnt something from the exercise. They showcased their talents and presented to the other audiences that they learnt something meaningful out of the training and therein dwelt the beauty of the training.
CEN: Finally, where do you see AZNet Global Limited in the next five years?
MAA: We have started working towards promoting the company. In the next five years, we want to be one of the foremost IT companies that will be training quality IT people, rendering first-class services to the private and public sectors in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.
CEN: Mr. Muhammed, thanks for this opportunity to interview you at the shortest notice.
MAA: You’re welcome. Thank you, Cyber Era NG for interviewing me.
- Muhammed is the CEO of AZNet Global Limited