Nigeria Lags Behind In Information Technology


Adeola Ezekiel Fabola, the overall best graduating student of Bells University Of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria graduated from with first class honours (CGPA 4.83) from the College of Information and Communication Technology. He won cash prizes and plaques for his academic excellence and outstanding leadership qualities, including Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s Leadership Prize, Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Overall Best Student and his college and departmental (Department of Information Technology)  prizes.  The 21-year old graduand speaks with YouthForum about his career and the state of Information Technology in Nigeria.

How did you emerge the overall best student in your set?

Yes, throughout my time in the university I strove for excellence, I always wanted to be the best. But I cannot say that I emerged the best student because I was the smartest, most intelligent, or most studious fellow in school,this is simply something that God has done for me!

Have you won any award in the past and how has the experience defined you?

Right from my secondary school days I represented my school and excelled in a lot of competitions. I had the best Junior Secondary School Certificate Examinations, JSCE result in Kogi State. I was a silver medalist in the 2006 international science Olympiad at the national level, to mention a few. Same was the case in the university, where I won a number of awards. I can tell you that each award I won fuelled my quest for excellence. Every level of success I reached, spurred me to want to attain greater success because I loved the feeling and couldn’t get enough of it. I guess that has made me a success-conscious person today.

You came out with a first class honour, are you a bookworm? 

That’s a term used to describe every pace-setting student today, isn’t it? What people need to realise is that there’s always more to a “bookworm” than they can see. I like to read and learn because I believe learning is an integral part of life. However my entire life does not revolve around reading. I participate in a host of other activities; I love football and table tennis, I play video games, I watch movies and I socialise from time to time.

Do you agree that the Nigerian education system only train youths to be jobseekers and does not prepare them well for the challenges ahead? 

Well, it’s no secret that our educational system does not do enough to prepare youths for future challenges; let’s face it, no system can. The truth of the matter is that there’s only so much that the educational system can do for our youths. Their ability to survive or even thrive depends largely on their willingness to embark on self-development. We cannot rely on our lecturers to teach us everything we need out there. On the issue of training youths to be employers of labour, a number of universities now offer compulsory courses on entrepreneurship so as to sensitize students on the need to “think outside the box”, and to charge them to be employers of labour rather than being job seekers.

Do you think graduating from a school of technology will give you an edge in the labour market, considering the high rate of unemployment?

I’m glad I attended a school of technology. Today I have a B.Tech degree (as opposed to a B.Sc degree). The B.Tech degree takes a year longer than the B.Sc to attain. This “extra” year comprises of a compulsory six-month-long internship during which students gain technical skills and work experience, while enabling them have a feel of what it’s like to be out there in the labour market. Also, the programme boasts of a versatile curriculum which provides students with the opportunities to offer courses in various fields, thus broadening their horizon.

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Why did you choose Information Technology (IT)? And what is the difference between computer science and information technology as professions?

IT is here to stay; a time will come when every aspect of our lives will revolve around IT. The terms “computer science” and “information technology” are interwoven; you can hardly talk about one without making reference to the other. Speaking in terms of academic disciplines, computer science is concerned with the development of technology for problem solving, while Information Technology is concerned with the appropriate application of this technology (produced by computer science) to meet users’ needs.

What is your take about the state of IT in Nigeria?

IT is a growing field. Every day we hear of and experience ground-breaking advancements and cutting-edge breakthroughs in IT. It has become so prominent that those who don’t get on the band-wagon get left behind. This is the case in Nigeria. We are far behind in the development and application of IT. It is important for the government and the people as a whole to recognise this. Thankfully, we are already taking steps in the right direction; agencies like National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) have been set up by the government to spur the advancement of the IT infrastructure in the country. Some organisations organise crusades aimed at enlightening the masses so that they’ll not just see IT as a luxury, but rather as a necessity.

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facbook before graduating from school, with your IT knowledge, how do you want to make a difference?

Let me start by saying one doesn’t need to do something “grandiose” in order to make a difference. If you’re waiting for the “next big thing” before you can make a difference, you’re simply robbing the world of your contributions; and that’s not a good way to live. As for my IT career, I have a passion for Information Security. I also see myself venturing into the integration of Information Systems in business environments. Nigeria still lags behind in these areas. There’s a paucity of Information Security professionals, and while the efforts of the few professionals available are commendable, a lot more work needs to be done. If you’re still not convinced, just recall the imbroglio that occurred in January 2012, when a group of hacktivists (an amalgamation of ‘hacker’ and ‘activist’)  defaced the National Labour Congress (NLC) website for days, and the perpetrators of that act remain at large to this day. Such a malady shouldn’t occur in a country like Nigeria, if we are to call ourselves the Giant of Africa. This, among others, is one of the areas in which I intend to make a difference.

Do you think Nigeria has an enabling environment for youths to make such a huge impact ?

There are a few challenges that youths may face, but as long as there are problems crying out for solutions (and let’s face it, they are plentiful in Nigeria), there will always be an avenue for problem-solvers and solution providers to come to the fore.

An advice to aspiring youths on how to succeed despite the challenges? 

Set short and long term goals – this will give you something to look forward to, as well as providing an avenue for you to measure your progress. Focus on the things that matter amidst the plethora of distractions. Most importantly,” put God first, and you’ll never have to come second.

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