- Raji Adebayo, Ibadan
Contrary to erroneous insinuations that the Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Shittu only contributed little as a minister to the development of Oyo State where he hails from and represent at the national level, the Minister has declared that he had contributed more than anyone as a minister from the state.
He disclosed that he has facilitated projects worth over N350 million since assumption of office less than two years ago.
He made the disclosure at a Media Chart organised by South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP) held on Saturday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
According to him, “I have facilitated over 350 million naira project which includes an Information and Commucation (ICT) Centre worth 280 million naira in Oke-Ogun, ICT facility at Saki Parapo worth 80 million, others are in Ogbomoso, Sepeteri, Kishi, and Ibadan. I know that opportunities comes but once.
“If you have anybody complaining about my ambition, you have to ask what the problem is, is he fighting proxy war or he want to be governor.
“They call me fanatic, some of them don’t know the meaning of fanatic. Because I would not drink, I will not steal they are calling me names. The poor people in Oyo State will know that I am not stingy.
“I am not a minister under PDP where they have money in their disposal, I am a minister under Buhari. It is unfortunate that the Aseyin said that, but it is a minority outburst. People, even prominent traditional rulers have called me that I should ignore it.
The minister also disclosed that the proposed first Information and Communications Technology (ICT), University in Nigeria will have only 30% admission opportunities for undergraduate students.
He explained that the remaining 70% will be the training and retraining of graduates in courses such as Post Graduate Diplomas, Masters degrees and Doctoral degree programmes.
Shittu pointed out that the university which some people were kicking against its establishment as a result of number of existing universities that are still struggling to compete with their peers in other parts of the world, would be free to operate on its own phase and free from government bureaucratic bottleneck.
The minister maintained that the university will provide opportunities for training and re-training of thousands of unemployed graduates, youths, government workers, agencies, departments, security agents and experts, policy makers and other ICT users would be tailored to compete favourably with its peers that are already existing and working in countries such as China and Norway.
He stressed further that the university which will have campuses in all the six geo-political zones of the country will be run on Public Private Partnership arrangement.
Giving reasons for the establishment of the ICT university separate and to be run independently of the existing ones, the minister disclosed that the ministry and the entire ICT industry does not have control over any of the existing universities, its faculties or departments.
Shittu also declared that about 240 graduates recruited illegally by NITDA, one of the agencies under his ministry has to sacked because they were employed through back doors without adequate knowledge in ICT.
He said that the ministry trained and re-equipped the illegally recruited workers to serve as a relief for them to become employers of labour on their own saying that the ICT university when established would take care of such training and re-training in the nearest future.
Shittu who said that he is aware that most graduates are ill-equipped to work in the ICT industry due to the lack of facilities and other needed materials also explained that the graduates would receive post graduate courses in the proposed university.
“NITDA recruited 240 graduates illegally, we had to sack all of them because they don’t have the knowledge, but as a relief, we started to re-equipped them to become employers of labour.
“If that is the case, it means our graduates are ill-equipped as workers for the ICT industry. If we have such university, it will open doors for those who want to study ICT after their first degrees.
“Yes, if I am not appointed as Minister of Communications, I may be thinking in that manner, but the existing universities about 150 of them, how many students can they admit out of 1.7 million candidates that wrote UTME, maybe 200 thousand or 150 thousand. We don’t have control over the existing universities, we don’t have control over them.
“This university will be based on PPP arrangement, and google, Motorola, Ericsson and other ICT companies will adopt some of its campuses, they will bring their technologies, their faculties and expertise to which they don’t have in the existing universities. You have such in China and Norway. Why don’t we have it here, he queried.