As of September 2017, operations of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) University of Nigeria were expected to commence across all six Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) campuses nationwide. Almost one year later, strong indications suggest it was just what we all suspected it was, another government ICT project that was never going to take off.
Revamping ICT education in the country
The idea for the ICT University of Nigeria -- the first of its kind in Africa -- was the brainchild of Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, in order to a provide a training environment that would produce enough skill power to boost the Nigerian ICT sector.
The minister first announced the proposed ICT university in March 2016, stating that the DBI campuses in Abuja, Lagos, Yola, Owerri, Enugu and Benue would be upgraded to meet the needs of the university.
About eight months later, in November 2016, Adebayo Shittu revealed that the government had concluded plans to commence operations of the ICT University of Nigeria in the following three months. According to him, there were plans to set up a committee that would ensure the successful transmission of DBI to an ICT university.
For some reason, the implementation committee was not inaugurated until June 2017, four months after we expected the university to be up and running.
Regardless, the 31-member committee of educational experts and ICT professionals was charged with coming up with a roadmap to ensure that the university commenced activities in September 2017, with the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
In August 2017, as announced by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the FEC approved the establishment of the ICT University of Nigeria.
The university proposes to focus on postgraduate programmes (only 30% admission opportunities for undergraduates), offering various industry-relevant courses including Cloud Computing, Big Data, Telecommunications, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, Robotic embedded systems, Computer forensics and Digital media and Entertainment technology.
Note that the Digital Bridge Institute, which is the training arm of the NCC already offers these courses.
According to the Communications Minister, the university would be run by a public-private partnership with both local and global ICT companies including Cisco, Facebook, Huawei, MTN, D-Links, Globacom, Lenovo, Samsung, Apple, Siemens-Nortel, Intel, Motorola, Ericsson, Dell, He, ZTE and IBM, who had at the time, indicated interest.
Even though many Nigerians had lost faith in the project with the announcement of the members of the implementation committee, coupled with the government’s track record with ICT projects, the news of a partnership with trusted global brands gave many a glimmer of hope.
Suggested Read: Will Africa’s first ICT University live up to its aims?
The plan, according to Adebayo Shittu, was to begin operations at the Enugu Campus of the Digital Bridge Institute. In August 2017, during an inspection visit to the DBI Enugu campus alongside a few members of the implementation committee, the minister revealed that the federal government had secured 20 hectares of land from the Enugu state government for additional structures such as lecture halls, students’ hostels and staff quarters.
It never happened
By September 2017, when the ICT university was proposed to commence operations, it never did.
This was because the FEC reportedly shut down the project about a month after Acting President Osinbajo announced their approval.
Tajudeen Kareem, a member of the ICT university implementation committee reportedly told The Guardian that the project got the axe because the federal government couldn’t go through with funding another university.
It was never going to work
According to a source close to the matter, the plans for the ICT University of Nigeria was more of a political agenda than anything else. The Digital Bridge Institute already runs several postgraduate ICT courses and trainings and offers internationally recognised certificates.
It also offers masters programmes in partnership with the University of Ibadan. Therefore, the identical model of the proposed ICT university was set to fail from the onset.
Tajudeen Kareem, while expressing his optimism for the eventual success of the project admits that the committee didn’t put some important factors into consideration.
“We are engaging some key players from the private sector. One of the mistakes made earlier was that we didn’t present the cash flow analyses of what the varsity is capable of generating for the government. We are already working on that and we believe that when we re-present, there shouldn’t be any opposition,” he told The Guardian.
Since the project was shut down in 2017, nothing has been said of what could have become Africa’s first ICT University by either the Communications Minister or members of the implementation committee. So it was interesting to discover that the establishment of the university was included in the 2018 budget, listed as an ongoing project with no budget attached to it.
Is the implementation of the ICT University of Nigeria really ongoing or is the government trying to play a fast one on us? Your guess is as good as mine.
Suggested Read: Why government ICT projects in Nigeria fail