HomeOpinionsOpen letter to Nigeria’s President-elect from a tech citizen

    Open letter to Nigeria’s President-elect from a tech citizen


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    By Tolu Oluyemi

    Dear President-elect,

    My deepest congratulations goes out to Your Excellency (YE), as you prepare to lead Nigeria on yet another four-year journey of development and growth. I understand that your journey to the attainment of the title of the president-Elect of Nigeria hasn’t been easy. Through the turmoil and tribulations, you’ve shown grit while overcoming the political landmines and these depict your willingness to fight for the betterment of our great nation.

    Despite my admiration for the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Your Excellency, I must admit that I do not envy you; especially in consideration of the enormity of responsibilities you’re saddled with and the mountain of problems to tackle. I want to believe however that you have prepared for the task ahead and you are ready to find the much-desired solutions to the many challenges bedevilling the country; leveraging your most available and globally envied resource – Technology and Brains.

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    YE, It’s imperative your government avoids falling into the category of those who have made numerous promises in the past to solve the many challenges facing the country but failed to the deafening chagrin of the hoi polloi. This quote by the well-known scientist, Albert Einstein, will help drive home my point: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

    While Nigeria is blessed with material, mineral, and human resources, she still struggles to fulfil her obligations to her people. Despite being the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa and fifth in the world, Nigeria ranks among the poorest countries in the world. You can attest to the fact that 70 per cent of Nigerians don’t have the financial capacity to cater to their immediate needs – food, shelter, healthcare and education.

    I’m not writing to outline the issues with Nigeria, I am penning this as a problem solver myself; who with about a decade of experience in the tech industry especially in the public sector understands that Nigeria’s problem has its panacea in technology. As a nation that has fallen behind in the comity of nations, Nigeria’s public sector urgently requires indigenous holistic 360-scope technology to fully automate ALL processes in growth acceleration and development by eliminating leakages and bureaucratic bottlenecks and in turn drive transparency, process optimisation and increase IGR. While I seem to posit that these things seem easy, I’m not oblivious to the herculean obstacles however, here are some of the crucial issues to immediately consider Sir:

    1) Consider Nigeria a project and apply the Lean principles!

    As we’re aware, one major problem previous administrations have always grappled with is the problem of revenue generation, vis-a-vis expenditure. Despite the wealth generated from oil, the Nigerian per capital budget of $200 for 2021 was child’s play when compared with the budget of Egypt and South Africa for the same year, which are $1,504 and $2,444 respectively. This implies that while your administration shops for ways to increase revenue generation, it has to employ and deploy the available resources VERY efficiently.

    Your government must adopt the Lean principles for resource management, which seeks to identify and then implement the most efficient, value-added way to provide government services by eliminating waste and inefficiency.

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    This will require a drastic and intentional cut in the cost of governance, aggressive revenue generation drive, initiation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) to drive developmental projects, attract investments and coupled with adequate investment in technology to ensure seamless revenue generation, plugging revenue leakage and then scaling revenue.

    2) Tech is the new crude oil; Literally!

    Nigeria is rich in crude oil and the 21st largest economy in the world, yet our country ranks 121 on the list of countries with low per capita income. Oil accounts for up to 75% of our revenue sources. Despite an increase in oil production and a global increase in crude oil price, Nigeria still accumulates debt to fund its annual budget. There is no doubt that our over-dependence on oil is no longer a sustainable endeavour; in fact, in the not-too-distant future, emergence and massive adoption of green eco-friendly technologies will immensely reduce the global need for crude.

    Globally, Nigeria is renowned for its abundance of tech and problem-solving brains. It’s in residual proportion!

    Without a doubt, Mr President-elect, Technology is the new oil and as it stands, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector contributed 18.44% to Nigeria’s GDP in the second quarter of 2022. This is according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. The oil and gas sector which once was the major contributor to the GDP fell to 6.33% in Q2 of 2022. With the needed attention placed on the tech sector, Nigeria will encourage creativity, create jobs, create wealth and can start to export our tech just like your Oracles and SAPs etc. The available capacity in this regard is enormous YE.

    3) The importance of investing in Indigenous startups

    The potential that tech has to change the lives of young Nigerians and scale the economy of the country is massive. This is evident in the clouds of investment this industry has attracted in the last decade. I am sure you might have come across the news of the takeover of a local tech company, Paystack, by an international company, Stripe, for a whopping sum of $200M to expand to Africa. This is just one of the many investments the technology sector has attracted over the years.

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    This sector has the potential of decentralizing wealth-creating, such that an ordinary young and driven Nigerian can create solutions to problems and generate wealth, unlike the oil sector which generates wealth for very few. As it stands, Nigeria ranks 16th globally and 1st in Africa with regard to the number of startups it accommodates. Startups in the country have raised $3.6bn in investment since 2019.

    YE, your government needs to consider ways it can drive investment in the technology sector, by offering funds and grants for startups, creating co-hubs and talent factories, incentivising tech talents, initiating favourable policies and creating the needed infrastructure to ensure that the sector is competitive. Imagine Sir, the government investing in indigenous startups competing globally, the kind of returns to the country…

    4) The importance of investing in local talent and indigenous tech.

    Your Excellency, Nigerian young tech talents are leaving the shores of the country in staggering numbers, they leave for the same reasons doctors and nurses flew the country. According to reports, Between 2014 and 2022, over 1000 Nigerian techies moved to the UK via the UK government’s Tech Talent VISA. You should be curious to know why governments of these developed countries are investing so much to bring these young tech ‘magicians’ into their country. They acknowledge the value they create and understand their skills as highly pertinent to maintaining global domination.

    While every country is looking forward to exporting its technology, they become agitated when their talent leaves. Nigeria should not only be agitated by its fleeing talent but must also do all in its power to make them productive and relevant in the country. The country needs to make working in the tech space conducive. The erratic power supply needs to be dealt with, the government must invest heavily in the sector, and co-hubs must be created to accommodate these talents. YE, the government must ensure that these initiatives are not politicized, but rather, merit driven.

    Permit me to reference the thoughtful words of the great Nigerian Army general, C. O. Ojukwu “Empower the youths through higher education and let them solve their (Nigeria’s) problems.”

    In addition to investing in local talents, local technology must be adopted through and through. Without a doubt, Nigerian young people can create solutions, in cost-effective ways, to problems previous governments have invested heavily in foreign technologies to solve. Your government must encourage and patronize local manufacturing and technology in a bid to export these technologies in the long run and generate an IGR pipeline.

    The story of Mustapha Gajibo, the young Borno State-born Nigerian, who created an electric vehicle that can comfortably cover a 200-kilometre distance before refilling the energy, comes to mind. These innovators abound in Nigeria. Your government must look inwards to adopt local tech innovations to replace foreign solutions in governance and service delivery to the Nigerian people. The benefits of this are such that valuable foreign exchange is saved, jobs are created for Nigerians and solutions to Nigeria’s challenges are localized.

    5) Invest heavily in STEM Education

    Education remains the bedrock of all civilisation. At this point, your government must invest in education. Schools and higher institutions should be mandated to embrace the global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum to drive innovation and development. There should be government-funded tech accelerators domiciled in federal higher institutions. Scholarships should be granted to local talents also.

    6) The tech solution to Nigeria’s security issues

    YE, I can tell that one of your MAJOR concerns going forward is insecurity. Our nation needs a permanent respite from the scourge. If your government is to be highly effective in its fight against insurgency, cyberattacks, terrorism and other criminal activities, local technology must be embraced. Gone are the days when conventional warfare was the norm. Boots on the ground no longer guarantee security. Technology can be the difference. Your government will do well to bring on board local tech gurus to create home-grown solutions to the country’s security challenges.

    It is important that your government engages fully, local manufacturers of drones, communication gadgets, armoured vehicles, weapons manufacturers and other surveillance equipment to cater to the demands of the military and other security outfits. This helps to create more jobs for the economy, encourage creative engineering and save the country precious forex. Proforce and Nord Motion are some of the indigenous manufacturers involved in the manufacturing of drones and military vehicles and equipment, others need to be encouraged to come on board. We, as the so-called giant of Africa, can begin to export these technologies to other parts of our continent. One can expect more sophisticated, fully tech-driven local players to emerge once opportunities become available due to the government’s total dependency on indigenous outfits.
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    7) Adopt Indigenous 360 Technology in Governance

    Effective public service delivery is crucial to the delivery of your mandate as the next president of Nigeria. However, the interactions the members of the public have had with public institutions and parastatals have been frustrating, time-consuming and capital-intensive. This frustrating reality, over the years, has continued to affect the country’s ease of doing business index.

    For this to happen, the adoption of 360 scope technology in every parastatal and agency of government is crucial. At this point in our national life, we need to eliminate the manual ways of rendering services, automate the process of getting things done and completely, not partially, systematize service delivery.

    The advantage of doing this include; the reduction in the cost of rendering these services, blockage of revenue loopholes and efficiency. Your government should have confidence in local tech talents enough for them to create localized solutions as substitutes for imported applications and techs that are being used to run governance.

    8) Adopt Robust Technology to drive Revenue Generation in unstructured Sectors and spaces.

    Your government, Dear President-elect must put revenue generation, revenue optimization and the blockages of revenue leakages as one of the priorities of your government. This, YE, am aware, is one of your strongest areas coincidentally. This can only be made possible with the deployment of technology. My startup, for instance, came up with a solution, known as Pay1One that has helped plug the leakages in revenue generation in over 200 public hospitals and facilities and have increased the revenue generated by the facilities by 200%, thereby eliminating corruption, wastage, complicated payment system and ensuring efficiency in service delivery. Nigeria needs all the IGR

    Apart from poverty, your government will also contend with serious issues including, erratic power supply, instability in the educational sector, insecurity, the struggling economy, corruption and many more herculean challenges. These are huge challenges to conquer, as you take over from the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. I sincerely hope that just like you scaled the hurdle of winning the presidential election, you will also have the courage to help our beloved country face and solve these challenges.

    I, as a member of the tech community in Nigeria, wish you success as you embrace the task of restoring Nigeria. It is my hope that your government will engage immensely, the local tech community to provide solutions to our country’s many challenges.

    Oluyemi is Founder and Lead Product Manager at Avancee Pinnacle

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