Pantami: A Hero For Nigeria At Sixty

By Uwa Suleiman

My Boss, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is one year in office as the Honourable Minister of Communications and first ever, of Digital Economy and the Social Media space has been awash with his giant strides. He has literally broken the internet, a godzillion times since August 21st 2020. As I lend my humble voice to the millions of voices all over the world extolling his sterling leadership and pace setting qualities, with repeated renditions of his achievements, I have chosen to beam the spotlight on the man, person and character behind the uncommon and unprecedented achievements recorded so far in the Digital Economy sector within a year at this auspicious time in our history as a nation at sixty. The offices of the Ministry have become a Mecca of sorts to well meaning individuals, seeking partnerships and collaborations, willing investors, cutting across all walks of human endeavour, and there is a reason why. The reason is a living, breathing human, a simple man with a vision greater than himself, but with a courage and focus far more powerful than any obstacle.

Dr Pantami is an enigma in the true sense of the word, equipped with the capacity to lead and the courage to dare. The MAN Pantami, is a God-fearing, disciplined, just, driven, meticulous, human, the PERSONALITY Pantami, is a BRAND. A generational brand whose legacy is built on proven hardwork, intellectual excellence, courageous DNA, very strong willpower and a clear vision, while the CHARACTER Pantami, is a deliberate, determined, focused, fearless and risk-taking individual.

Of the numerous qualities that my Boss possesses, five exceptionally stand out; he is God fearing, disciplined, tireless, is equipped with the capacity to manage people and extremely capable of independent decisions. Pantami understands power and wears it perfectly. He possesses an uncanny ability to balance the odds in any situation, his ability to bring people together and explore their best talents for a common goal is extraordinary and this in itself is a trait only true leaders posess, recognise and manage well. It is impossible to know Dr Pantami and remain the same.

His mind is deep. Strategically, analytically and critically thinking about everything and everyone. Having had the rare priviledge of working, learning, unlearning and relearning for four life-changing years, under his direct tutelage, I can tell you for free that there is a world of difference between people who are born to lead and those made to lead. A born leader is an all-rounder, he takes charge in every aspect of his life. He represents different things to different people – father, boss, teacher, mentor, cleric, brother, leader, friend and he carries all these roles with exceptional clarity. When you have had the good fortune of encountering Dr Pantami, you will begin to understand that leadership is innate.

Pantami’s Character is deliberate in every action. Nothing is overlooked. The careless random acts of privilege do not exist in his life, he is known to be impatient about only one thing – RESULTS! Pantami wants results and he wants them NOW! And he is getting them. He will get them all. He leads the charge himself, so nothing is left to chance. It is easy to see how divinely favoured, guided and guarded he is, for Pantami is a man after God’s heart. It is not surprising therefore, that he possesses the Midas touch abundantly. Say what you may, but it is an indisputable fact that everything he touches turns to gold. Throw him to the wolves and he will come back leading the pack.

The man behind these unprecedented achievements is an individual in the league of extraordinary gentlemen. A man who has, and continues to demystify the notion of impossibility. Although I have chosen to concentrate on the man rather than his gargantuan accomplishments, it is almost impossible not to mention some of the feats he has recorded so far and how they reflect his character and vision.

His profound organizational abilities have led to the emergence of an exponentially growing Digital Economy sector, which he literally built from scratch beginning with a globally symbolic name change.

His undeterred focus and vision has resulted in a solid infrastructural plan which serves as a spring board for limitless possibilities in every sector. Pantami is particularly passionate about Broadband penetration and it is easy to see why.

The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, his brainchild conceived, birthed and nutured under his guidance is the pathway to the future. There is a plug for every sector, no one is left out. The eight pillars upon which the vision is anchored are all encompassing.

His dexterity in conflict resolution finally put to rest the lingering issue of Right of Way where unbelievable waivers have been granted by hitherto warring parties to pave way for real development. He is an expert at managing people and situations. Never one to look down on anyone but firm, straightforward and crystal clear.

Pantami is not a man to resist the unfamiliar. He will test the waters until the tide changes in his favour then he will set sail. When global economies were shutting down at the height of the pandemic, he championed virtual governance. He put Nigeria on another pedestal by entrenching virtual meetings and activities even at the highest levels of government. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings have held successfully since the pandemic, a situation that could have built a wedge between the people and their leaders in times past. Federal interventions are being deployed through virtual platforms to the people and gradually we are beginning to adapt to virtual lifestyle as a norm.

The contribution of the Digital Economy sector to the nation’s GDP as at the second quarter of the year 2020, reflects an exponential increase of almost 10% within an 11 month period, as against the annual epileptic increase of about 1.7% over a period of a decade. It is pertinent to note that successes recorded in other sectors like the financial services sector, the educational sector, aviation, and indeed all sectors who leverage on the Digital platforms enabled by his policies are not included in this figure.

A man of action and commitment, he is not afraid to pave the way. He has begun a new crusade lately- the need to prioritise competence over paper, proven, value-adding skills over certificates. It is a new charge but like all others he has led, it is gaining momentum and it will firmly take root. Currently, he has launched the Digital Nigeria Portal and Mobile App available on playstore, to enable non discriminatory access to digital skills. A time will come in Nigeria when a secondary school drop out with proven skills will be hired over a PhD certificate holder who cannot justify his papers, and we will remember Pantami started it all.

Blessed with an exceptionally retentive and photographic memory, his intellectual prowess easily shines through in his daily interactions. He never forgets a face, a name or an event notwithstanding the circumstance or personalities involved. He delivers his speeches extempore, speaking from his heart, because true passion does not need prepared speeches. He is passionate about Nigeria and his vision is in his mind and not on a few pages of typed words.

As we celebrate sixty years of nationhood, let us in all sincerity look within and recognize the indisputable fact that we are blessed with certain individuals who have the potential to inspire a paradigm shift in our society. Even in that league Pantami stands out. I do not know where his inexhaustible drive comes from, but I am certain the fear of failure drives him. My boss abhors failure like a plague. An extremely result oriented personality, he sets the bar high for others and very high for himself. There is a joke among his aides that if he scores you 40%, it is equivalent to a distinction by most standards. He motivates and inspires people to aim for more, do better than yesterday and conquer the fear of tomorrow. He drives you till you are inspired to aspire for perfection.

At sixty, we should for a moment pause, recognize, accept, embrace and celebrate our heroes. To my generation, Nigeria at sixty should be for us a moment in time, That point of Eureka! When we realize and accept that we are indeed a favoured generation. The changes we seek and the resources we need to effect these changes exist with and among us.

At sixty as a nation and within a year in office, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has given us enough reasons to celebrate and look on the brighter side of life. Literally pulling a nearly comatose ICT Sector by its boot straps to solidly positioning it as a vibrant Digital Economy sector, sustaining the tempo and expanding its frontiers is worth celebrating if we truly understand the implications of a Digital Economy.

I Celebrate a generational Brand

I celebrate the Digital Economy!

I Celebrate Nigeria at sixty!!

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Uwa Suleiman is the Spokesperson to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy