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The Guardian’s Special Focus On Most Impactful, Result-Driven Professionals Driving Nigeria’s Economic Growth And Development

By Guardian Nigeria
05 October 2022   |   10:30 am
Ever since democracy took root in Nigeria in the last 2twenty-three (23) odd years, there has been a sustained effort on the part of the government to bring the country out of the backwaters of underdevelopment to first-world status. This is the reason why government ministries, agencies and private organisations keep formulating several economic and business policies to drive the country forward. 

Ever since democracy took root in Nigeria in the last 2twenty-three (23) odd years, there has been a sustained effort on the part of the government to bring the country out of the backwaters of underdevelopment to first-world status. This is the reason why government ministries, agencies and private organisations keep formulating several economic and business policies to drive the country forward. 

In achieving this objective, technocrats and professionals both in the public and private sectors are needed in actualizing this dream. Thankfully, Nigeria has great professionals who have been able to formulate good economic policies for their various organisations as essential ingredients for the realization of the objectives of these firms. These outstanding professionals are the brains behind the successes of their various organisations in line with the visions of their companies and are worthy of emulation.

In recognition of the outstanding contributions of these great minds to the collective pursuit of the country’s goal of national development, The Guardian celebrate their impact and remarkable achievements and contributions to the nation’s economic growth.

In this commemorative edition of Nigeria’s Sixty-second (62nd) Independence Day Anniversary, and based on exemplary sectoral leadership and overall contribution to the growth of Nigeria’s economy, we showcase the accomplishments of some of these notable and highly esteemed individuals both in private and public organisations and across diverse sectors of the nation’s economy. 

They include Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Engr. Chris Okoroigwe, Managing Director/CEO, Western Development Company Limited (WDCL); Professor Muhammad Bello Abubakar, Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBBL); Mr. Onur Kumral, Managing Director/CEO, VKS Group; Dr Isa Ibrahim Jalo, Director/CEO, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS); and Professor Ibrahim Hussaini Doko, Director General/CEO, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).

Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.

Danbatta: Catalysing Nigeria’s Digital Economy through Effective Regulation

As Nigeria marks its 62nd Independence Anniversary, the telecommunications sector remains an enabler of socioeconomic transformation through sectoral milestones and multiplier effect of its operations on other sectors of the nation’s economy. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the national regulatory authority for the telecommunications sector, under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has put in place a number of ingenious regulations, guidelines and initiatives to catalyse effective implementation of the Federal Government’s digital economy policies in order to secure Nigeria’s place in the comity of nations leveraging digital culture for national transformation.

As Nigeria marks the 62nd anniversary of Independence from British colonial rule., the skies above Abuja, the nation’s capital, will provide the stage for a dramatic air show, and the world’s biggest cake will be wheeled into the Moshood Abiola National Stadium. Another message of hope is expected to be broadcast from political platforms to religious podiums across the country. 

Amidst the pomp and pageantry, the economy is noted to have been affected by rising inflation, job losses, and insecurity, among others. However, despite these challenges, the telecommunications sector remains an oasis of the successful mark of national pride and deserving of celebrations being a successive reference point for national resilience. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that in all the occasions when Nigeria’s economy went into recession within the last seven years, the telecoms sector always came to the rescue.

The level of resilience and sustainability currently obtainable in the telecoms sector, which boasts of over $70 billion in investments in the last two decades, up from $500 million in 2001, has been an outcome of sustainable policies emplaced by the telecom regulator to provide the necessary digital valves required to support the economy.

As the Federal Government’s agency, saddled with the responsibility of promoting the deployment of baseline broadband infrastructure across the country through effective regulation of the digital ecosystem, especially by creating an enabling environment for its licensees across different market segments to be able to roll out services in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, the NCC has been upbeat in living up to its expectations as an enabler. 

Indeed, it will be difficult to separate the NCC policies from its current driver and visionary, in the person of the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta. Prof. Danbatta has been in charge of the most critical development infrastructure in a modern economy for the past seven years, having assumed office as the country’s Chief Telecom Regulator in August 2015.

There is no gainsaying the fact that globally, telecommunications has become the engine room that powers economic growth and development. The development of telecoms infrastructure has, therefore, become a key element in the development agenda of nations.

Today, Nigeria has registered one of the most impressive advances in telecoms development under Danbatta and the nation is acknowledged as a model in telecommunications regulation in Africa, the reason many telecom regulators on the Continent continually pay visits to the Commission to glean knowledge required to benchmark their operations. 

Industry stakeholders have noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic development programmes needed a catalyst to achieve inclusive growth – which NCC has provided through an unprecedented transformation of the Nigerian telecommunications industry in record time. 

  In the last few years of his leadership at the NCC, Danbatta has shared and pursued the three-way vision of President Buhari focusing on economic growth, curbing corruption, and boosting national security. Danbatta and his dynamic team at NCC have given concrete expression to the much-needed telecom infrastructure development required to accelerate the actualization of the Federal Government’s vision in those areas. 

Danbatta, a Visionary Leader

As a visionary leader and a telecommunication engineering professional per excellence, Danbatta, ab initio, took decisive steps early on his appointment in August 2015 to carve for NCC a path of regulatory excellence with firm and forthright leadership needed for the revolutionary changes that have happened in the telecoms industry.

Upon assumption of office in 2015, Danbatta started by articulating a Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) for the years 2015-2020 after due consultation with industry stakeholders. Otherwise called the 8-Point Agenda, the SVP is the forerunner to the SVP II 2021-2025, dubbed, the 5-Point Agenda. The SVPs are Commission’s conscious effort to streamline policies, plans and extant strategies in the communications and digital economy sector for close implementation and monitoring for remarkable and quantifiable outcomes. The policies and strategies include the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, and the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024. 

The Strategic Vision Plans (SVP) 2015-2020

The first SVP focused on an 8-Point Agenda, whose diligent implementation has significantly improved the growth of the sector and the sector’s contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That vision has helped to facilitate broadband penetration, improve quality of service (QoS), optimize usage and benefits of the spectrum, promote Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovation and investment opportunities, facilitate strategic collaboration and partnership, empower and protect consumers, promote fair competition and inclusive growth, as well as ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency. Following the diligent implementation of the 8-Point Agenda, the country achieved and surpassed its broadband penetration target of 30 per cent by the end of December 2018. 

The Strategic Vision Plans (SVP) 2021-2025

In 2021, Danbatta mobilized his dynamic team at NCC to develop a new and sequential Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, an initiative regarded as the Commission’s transformation agenda, which succeeds the 8-Point Agenda, earlier instituted in 2015 and implemented successfully. 

Speaking on the SVPs, Nigeria’s chief telecom regulator stated that they are designed to accelerate the consolidation of all the lofty gains of telecom liberalisation and to advance the actualisation of digital economy policies, programmes and targets of the government as stipulated by the President’s message to him in 2015, to hit the ground running. Danbatta said it was a marching order. On the SVP II, the EVC said: “The need to take the Commission’s vision to greater heights facilitated the development of a new Strategic Vision Plan which was unveiled on September 7, 2021. In developing the new SVP (2021 – 2025), we have taken cognizance of several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five (5) years, as well as the current global realities.” 

According to Danbatta, these realities, all of which have been incorporated into the SVP 2021-2025, include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Strategic Plan (2020–2023), the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025 and the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). 

Consequently, the SVP 2021-2025 has five focal points as follows: Organizational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence; Facilitate the Provision of Infrastructure for a Digital Economy which fosters National Development; Promote Fair Competition, Inclusive Growth, Increased investment and Innovative Services; Improve Quality of Service (QoS) for Enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE), and Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership. 

NCC’s SVPs vs. FG’s Economic Development Plans

While the implementation of the 8-Point Agenda ran concurrently to facilitate the accomplishment of the Federal Government’s vision in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which expired in December 2020, Danbatta-led NCC conceptualised the new SVP, 2021-2025 to add the necessary impetus concurrently to the implementation of the Federal Government’s National Development Plan (NDP), 2021-2025, which is the successor blueprint to ERGP.

In other words, just as it did with respect to the first SVP, industry stakeholders believe that once NCC is able to diligently implement the five pillars in the second SVP, it would have done another resounding justice to the leading role it is expected to play in implementing all the extant digital economy policies of government as well as an economic development plan to bolster Federal Government’s vision for diversifying the economy.

Impressive Statistics and GDP Contribution

As Nigeria celebrates the 62nd Independence Anniversary, it is pertinent to note that the telecommunications sector has recorded impressive growth data with an unprecedented contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Commission’s official website (www.ncc.gov.ng). 

Danbatta’s institutionalization of leadership finesse, regulatory excellence and operational efficiency has helped the industry to consolidate on its previous gains, as it continues to wax stronger as a very important sector, driving national development. For instance, by July 2022, active telecom subscribers in the country have grown significantly from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country in 2001 to 209 million. This represents a teledensity of 109.47% from less than 1% in 2001. 

Besides, basic Internet subscriptions have also grown from zero in the pre-liberalisation era in 2001 to over 152 million as of July 2022. It is also gratifying that the broadband penetration which was less than 10 per cent, when Danbatta came on board in 2015, rose to over 31 per cent in December 2018 and in July 2022, broadband penetration reached the 44.49% penetration mark.

Data released by the NBS recently revealed that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributed 18.44% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at the second quarter of 2022. From this figure, the telecommunications sector alone contributed 15%. The ICT contribution to GDP is, by far, the second largest contributor to the national economy coming after the agriculture sector. From less than $500 million investment in 2001, the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector has surpassed $70 billion.

Birthing of 5G Services in Nigeria

As the Chief Telecom Regulator, Danbatta has rallied stakeholders in the ecosystem to facilitate the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria. Realising that the implementation of 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation, Danbatta-led NCC has pulled necessary strings required to make Nigeria one of the early adopters and users of 5G services in Africa. 

The diligence and sustained efforts of the Commission in this regard led to the successful auction of the 3.5 GHz spectrum band for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria in December 2021, with MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications emerging as winners of the two spectra lots sold during the auction exercise in December 2021, which is widely adjudged by industry stakeholders as transparent, fair and credible.

On September 18, 2022, MTN Nigeria officially announced the commercial launch of 5G services in Lagos with plans to extend to six other states soon. With this, the Danbatta-led NCC has put Nigeria on another global record of giving telecom consumers a whole new experience in telecommunications services that speaks to more efficiency and gravitates Nigeria to unleashing the potentials of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big data, Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence ( Machine Learning), Blockchain, Robotics, and so on.  

According to industry stakeholders, the advanced 5G technology promises to extend the reach and capacity of a data networks in Nigeria and enable much faster speeds and lower latency, giving customers near-instant access to the things they care about and downloads that take seconds, instead of minutes.

Speaking a forum recently, the CEO of NCC, expressed confidence that the future of telecommunications in Nigeria is incrementally bright. According to Danbatta, the coming years will be exciting for Nigerians, who will, through 5G network deployment, have access to faster broadband speed to carry out personal and official activities.

Danbatta has continued to state that access to robust and ubiquitous broadcast on a 5G network will have a greater positive multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy such as education, finance, healthcare, agriculture, transportation, and governance. The EVC asserted that access to telecommunications services/broadband has become a necessity for optimization, efficiency, effectiveness, and success. 

Commitment to Digital Innovation, Research & Development

In recognition of the enormous tasks ahead and to adequately prepare for the future, the Danbatta-led NCC has continued to facilitate research and development in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to promote innovations that can ride on the robust infrastructure being facilitated through the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Infrastructure Companies as well as Satellite Operators being licensed to operate in Nigeria.

As of July 2022, NCC has committed over N500 million to Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions across the country to facilitate research and innovations. The funds have been committed to research grants to universities and tertiary institutions, including professorial chairs in the universities in strategic areas to drive development in the Nigerian telecommunications industry. Hence, the Commission is now focused on supporting the academia in the commercialisation of the prototypes from this innovative research programme because of the relevance and correlation to the Federal Government’s policy on harnessing indigenous technology for sustainable development of our country. According to Danbatta, inventions, and improvements that emanate from academia are required by the industry for improved efficiency and productivity.

NCC’s ranking as Ethically-Compliant Regulator

Another important milestone achieved under Danbatta’s leadership that resonates with the spirit of Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary and democratic ideals was the ranking of the Commission as the most integrity-driven and ethically-compliant parastatal among 25 other regulatory agencies assessed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC) two years ago.

In the anti-graft agency’s Ethics Compliance and Integrity Scorecards (ECIS), 2020, which measures how Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government comply with ethical, integrity, statutory, regulatory and policy standards and requirements, the NCC came first with a score of 81.15 percent. Trailing behind NCC in the prestigious ranking of the 25 regulatory agencies are eight other agencies, with scores above 50 per cent.

Stakeholders have hauled the Danbatta-led NCC for this feat, saying the ranking is a testament to the ethical culture and high standards of integrity, that characterise the operations and regulatory activities of the Commission. Accordingly, the regulatory initiatives of the Commission, too numerous to itemize here, have consistently underscored its commitment to continue to support the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda to rapidly advance the socio-economic development of Nigeria through a fair, firm, forthright and transparent regulation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as Nigeria marks its 62nd Independence Anniversary, the NCC, under its current leadership, has proved its mettle as a flagship public sector institution, enthusiastically committed to the discharge of its mandates, functions, and responsibilities in facilitating the deployment of broadband infrastructure, driving adoption of emerging technologies, putting the telecom consumers at the nerve-centre of regulation, supporting the government to diversify the Nigerian economy, and collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria leverage emerging technologies for the prosperity of citizens, businesses and national development.

 

 

Engr. Chris Okoroigwe, Managing Director/CEO, Western Development Company Limited (WDCL)

CHRIS OKOROIGWE: A Portrait Of Professionalism And Value Creation In Nigeria

For Nigeria to attain her position in the comity of nations in critical areas of human endeavours, professionals like Engr. Chris Okoroigwe, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Western Development Company Limited (WDCL), remains one of those that the country looks up to. 

Over the years, Engr. Chris Okoroigwe has carved a niche for himself through the professional and technical execution of projects in Western Development Company Limited. Undoubtedly, one of the most articulated Electrical, Computer and Electronic Engineers in Nigeria, Engr. Chris Okoroigwe has distinguished himself not only as a reputable Engineer, technocrat and seasoned administrator but has also demonstrated a high degree of integrity and professionalism in the ICT, Real Estate, Oil and Gas sectors of the Nigerian economy. 

After his secondary education, Engr. Chris attended the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria, where he obtained his first degree (B.Sc Engr. In Electrical, Computer and Electronic Engineering, Second Class Honours). As a practical and knowledge-driven professional, Engr. Chris proceeded to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo, Nigeria, where he obtained M.Engr in Instrumentation and Control in 1998.  In 1992, based on his outstanding performance and commitment in the one-year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme with the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Warri Delta State, the company employed him as a Contract Engineer in charge of Engineering, Design and Supervision of Telecoms projects, organizing procurement and co-ordination of project materials. 

Prior to joining Western Development Company Limited (WDCL), Engr. Chris Okoroigwe has worked with Ranc Limited Warri, as a Contract Manager in partnership with WALCO Limited where he was the Co-ordinator of the day-to-day administration of projects. 

Since his assumption as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Western Development Company Limited (WDCL), Engr. Chris has demonstrated a high level of professionalism with much positive impact on the Nigerian economy. Western Development Company Limited (WDCL) is an indigenous company offering services to local and international Oil and Gas companies for over twenty-five (25) years. The services of the company includes: Procurement, Engineering and Construction in Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, and Instrumentation, in Onshore and Offshore brown field and green field projects. In addition, the company also offers services in the procurement and installation of Information Technology and Telecommunication projects. Indeed, WDCL business portfolio cuts across vast areas including Software Licenses, hardware and communication devices, Technical support and Data Storage Solutions. Specifically, the company is currently represents Sixty-five (65) OEM Software licenses in the Oil and Gas industry and partnerships in other sectors of the economy.

As a forward-looking company with a strong determination to create more impact in Nigeria and beyond, WDCL, is working hard to extend her operations to Oil drilling, completion and well maintenance services, provision of Badges, Tug Boats, Personnel Carriers, Security Vessels just to mention but a few. Moreso, the company is working towards expanding its business tentacles to the shallow and deep offshore. As a focus Company with a well-articulated mission statement “To always deliver competent and credible information technology services to our clients, at cost-effective rates, and to meet our client’s quality expectation and delivery to ensure their projects succeed regardless of the challenges encountered, while ensuring the health, safety and environmental best practices” Western Development Company Limited (WDCL) is licensed, certified and associated with local and international regulatory bodies and institutes including COREN, SPE International, ISO 9001:2015, Project Management Institute (PMI), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), DPR, NCDMB just to mention but a few. 

To consolidate its leading position in the industry and timely delivery of projects to clients, the company under the leadership of Engr. Chris Okoroigwe is in a technical partnership with Oracle, CISCO, HP, FORTINET, AVAYA, ASSAI, VIVO Energy, Motorola Solutions, Microsoft, Trend Micro, Redhat Linux, PVtsim, MAT LAB and Bentley STAADPro. 

It is worthy of note to mention that Engr Chris Okoroigwe is an innovative professional and technical expert who is synonymous with value creation. Indeed, he is not one of those who got to where they are by whom they knew, but his journey to the top of his professional career has been the product of his commitment, hard work, dedication, honesty, transparency and tenacity. As a result-oriented Chief Executive with the capability to translate vision into reality, Engr Chris Okoroigwe has permeated several companies in the Oil and Gas sector of the Nigerian economy including Chevron Nigeria Limited, Seplat NLNG limited, AP, Total Energies, Addax Petroleum, NNPC, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Aggreko, Dangote, Honeywell, NDIC, FCMB just to mention but a few. 

Conclusively, it is imperative to state that Engr. Chris Okoroigwe whose contributions and achievements speak louder than words remains a man of honour, a catalyst of economic development, an agent of positive change, a visionary leader, an innovative professional, a seasoned Engineer, a dynamic administrator and a technocrat. 

Indeed, his innovativeness, pragmatic and exemplary leadership qualities, mentorship, as well as his many insightful solutions to the plight of his clients continue to stand him out among his equals. 

As Nigeria celebrates her Sixty-two (62) Anniversary today, your enormous contributions in the Oil and Gas sector in particular and Nigeria’s economy, in general, will remain indelible in the sand of time.

 

Onur Kumral, CEO, VKS Group

ONUR KUMRAL: An Icon of Business Excellence

 

Mr. Onur Kumral is the Managing Director/CEO of VKS Group. His companies operating in Nigeria are: VKS Nigeria Construction Limited – VKS, Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Limited – JSM, Kings Flour Mill Ltd – KFM and Aksoy Nigeria Limited. 

His companies have an employment strength of over 2000 direct staff and over 25000 indirect workers in Nigeria.

No one in Nigeria had an inkling that his business will grow speedily into the class of top business echelon in Nigeria when he arrived the country and started doing business. 

Kumral, having been prepared for the task ahead knew that if he must succeed in Nigeria’s business terrain, he must move beyond romanticizing his ideas to doing the hard, practical and creative work necessary to achieve success in his business. And that he did.

Getting to Work 

Kumral’s first step was to create the VKS Nigeria Construction Limited which has over the years recorded tremendous successes in construction projects across the country. The superb quality of deliveries and adherence to contract time established his brand and the man behind the brand as one that can be firmly trusted with more tasking projects. Unsurprisingly, Kumral has never failed. 

One of the outstanding projects executed and delivered before time by VKS Construction Limited is the 21-storey smart building in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. This building, famous as the sixth tallest building in Nigeria was inaugurated by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo. Also, Nigeria’s first Coconut Oil Factory recently commissioned in Akwa Ibom State was built by VKS. 

Another amazing project in VKS’ construction kitty is the new International Terminal Building at the Victor Attah’s International Airport. The project which is near completion will have the capacity to facilitate over one million passengers yearly, and will be one of the best airport terminal in the world in terms of smartness, functionality, security and safety of passengers and workers.

Beyond construction, VKS group took a business step that has contributed immensely to the employment rate and economic growth of Nigeria. In 2017, Kumral, established one of the largest syringe companies in Nigeria, the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Limited, located in Akwa Ibom State. The syringe company currently produces at a capacity of 1.2 million units of syringes daily. This effort has helped to reduce capital flight through syringe importation into Nigeria.

In 2019, Onur Kumral, founded Kings Flour Mill Limited, which turns out 500 metric tons per day. The factory was inaugurated by His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in September 2019, and it is located in Onna , Akwa Ibom State.

Kumral has also ventured into oil and energy focus investment. In 2021, VKS Group established Aksoy Nigeria limited, the sole distributor of all Hyundai Xteer Lubricant across Sub-Sahara Africa.

With an operational base in River States, AKSOY NIGERIA offers products such as premium, gasoline, diesel, gear oils, hydraulic oils, transformer oils, transmission fluids for passenger cars, motorcycles, heavy duty trucks and industrial machineries.

Contribution to Economy, workforce:

The local economy of Akwa Ibom State, Rivers State and by extension Nigeria has benefited in no little measure from Kumral’s investment in Nigeria. Companies owned by VKS group is currently the highest employer of Labour in its major operational base, Akwa Ibom, after Civil service. The workforce is saturated with the locals. Kumral in a recent interview notes “I have only three expatriates, the rest are all locals”. 

Mr. Kumral has a flair for technology transfer. He has deepened the local content policy of the Federal Government by sponsoring the advanced training of several Nigerians on Injection Machine Operation, Quality Control, Maintenance of Mole, amongst other technologies in Turkey. As a result, more Nigerians have gained proficiency in this area of business as part of the CEO’s keen attention to training and retraining of staff at all levels. 

Kumral’s Strategy to Success

Kumral believes in team work and the need to give his staff a sense of business ownership. He noted: “I give credit to our guys working in the company. They have done very well to create our brand because of the sense of business ownership they have about our business. Through my dealings with them, they see the business as theirs too hence they want to touch everyone’s life, giving that quality that stands us out.”

Kumral and the Future

The Turkish Businessman and Investor, has indicated keen interest to establish a massive textile business in Nigeria. Kumral reveals: “We have signed our preliminary contracts with our partners in Turkey again. Of course, you know Turkey is a big textile country. We want to bring that textile company to start to produce in Nigeria. Soon, you will see the opening of a textile company in Akwa Ibom State.

“It will be designed by local designers. It will be in the quality of Turkish textile. That is what we want to achieve. Our first target will be to produce 3,000 dresses a day which will be a standard of 3000 to 5000. That will create about 5000 direct employment and maybe 23,000 to 25,000 indirect employment.”

 Kumral in the eyes of the Public

The popular aphorism that a goldfish has no hiding place has been true in the case of Mr. Onur Kumral. Since he berthed his investment in Nigeria, there have been several honours to his name for the tremendous contribution he has made to the Nigerian economy.

Few among recent ones is the endorsement of Jubilee Syringe by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on March 5, 2021 as the best in the country and one of the very best in the world. 

To his name, Onur Kumral was crowned Independent Newspapers CEO of the year 2020. He later emerged among Nigeria’s 100 most proactive, result-driven Chief Executive Officers in 2020 as bestowed by Guardian Newspaper.

Onur Kumral will not rest on his oars in contributing to the growth of Nigeria’s economy.

Dr Isa Ibrahim Jalo, Director/CEO, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS)

ISA IBRAHIM JALO: Data Infrastructure Expert, Transformational Strategist With A Difference at AGIS

Dr Isa Ibrahim Jalo, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS), began his working career with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Nigeria in 1995 as a Graduate Assistant. He rose through the ranks to the position of Senior Lecturer in 2007, conducting research and teaching undergraduate courses in Soil Science, as well as computer networking and hardware under the Cisco Systems Networking Academy Programme. 

His passion for ICT enabled him pursue this line of profession early during his educational career, where he developed a software for the statistical analysis of his project which earned him the prize of Best Project Student in the Faculty. In 2003, he pioneered the establishment of Cisco Networking Academy Programme in the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, where he served as the Administrator and Instructor, teaching IT courses such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), IT Essentials and Fundamentals of Wireless Local Area Network. 

As a result of his effort for sustainable management and excellent academy performance, the Cisco Systems Networking Academy Programme upgraded the Academy under his administration to the status of a Regional Academy and later Academy Training Centre. Also, due to the academy programme, he was able to obtain several professional certificates in different aspects of ICT which earned me recognition in the University, where he served in various University Senate Committees. 

He was also at the World EXPO 2000 Hannover, Germany for six months where he served the ZERI Foundation, Geneva (www.zeri.org) as Web manager and Computer Systems Administrator. The skills acquired from his stay at ZERI Foundation enabled him designed and register his institution’s first website on the World Wide Web (Internet) in 2000. In 2007, the Federal Capital Territory Administration requested for his service, in which he obliged, and was appointed the Coordinator, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), with the mandate to review and implement the e-Government Strategic Plan for the FCT. 

He was instrumental in the modest gains made in the e-Government programme of the FCT. Built a portal for the FCT that was ranked second to Washington DC by research conducted in 2008 on e-Governance by some scientists in Spain. He also pioneered and established the FCT Call Centre technology, which is currently serving Abuja residents. As a result of these achievements in the FCT, the United Nations University/International Institute of Software Technology Macao offered him a fellowship in 2009 to conduct research on e-Government Implementation in Municipalities using FCT, Abuja as a case study. 

The outcome of the study was utilized towards the development of a strategic plan and implementation of e-Government programme for the Federal Capital Territory. Sequel to the advertisement and work of selection committee for the position of the topmost position at AGIS, he was successful and appointed the Director/CEO of the Agency in March 2010. 

Within six months of his appointment, he took over the management of AGIS from the foreign management consultants through building local capacity and repositioned the Agency for better service delivery. However, in March 2013, he was redeployed by the then FCT administration to the Archives and History Bureau to reposition the Agency for better service delivery. During the period (more than 3 years) as Director of the Bureau, he was able to computerize the records in the archives, develop a record management policy and made four publications including concluding work on the history of FCT. 

He was later in August 2016 redeployed back to Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) by the FCT Minister to sanitize the agency and enhance service delivery to the public in line with current Federal Government policy on Ease of Doing Business. 

An alumnus of several Leadership Institutes in Nigeria, Middle East and Europe, and Fellow of several institutes and recipient of several awards and fellowship by professional bodies, Jalo is currently carrying out the upgrade of AGIS systems, automation of workflows and repositioning the Agency for better service delivery in Lands Administration.  

As one of the chief strategists of Nigeria’s proactive and result-driven interventionist government agencies in national development, Dr. Ibrahim Jalo spoke to The Guardian on sundry issues including the mandate and achievements of AGIS under his purview, data infrastructure, amongst others.

 

The statutory mandate of AGIS is to sanitise land administration system within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). How can you describe the achievements of AGIS in the past two years and what are the measures being put in place to sustain the success so far recorded?

Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) is the result of the bold decision taken by Government of the Federation in 2004 to embark on a complete computerization of the cadastral and land registry of the FCT. Within ten years of its establishment, the agency was able to revolutionize the entire operations of the Land Administration and other land related Departments of the FCT. With AGIS services, decisions concerning land can now be taken from an informed position with a reliable and up to date data. AGIS has become a symbol of transparency and good governance within not only the Federal Capital Territory alone but within the entire Federation of Nigeria as other States try to borrow from and replicate the success of AGIS. The mandate of AGIS is Generation, Management and Administration of Geospatial Data and Land Matters in the Federal Capital Territory

The creation of AGIS saw the computerization of land and survey records required for the management and administration of land and related matters in the FCT. The computerisation and use of Geographic Information System were utilised towards identifying and resolution of problems associated with manual methods of land administration, which was due to poor record keeping that resulted in: Unattended applications; Multiple allocations; Unclear situations in land allocation; Mismatches in land use; Encroachments on rights-of-way, property boundaries; Misuse of public properties; Forgeries of land documents; Illegal allocations from “Parallel Office”; Inefficient revenue generation and collection.

With the AGIS Technology, processes that will previously take weeks or months to complete are done within 24 hours or less. The automated processes in AGIS have also enhanced security, transparency and accountability by minimizing errors, and mitigating fraud from human factors. Centralized data management and storage also ensures standards are complied with and information is not duplicated.

To sustain the success achieved, the management of AGIS over the years introduced regular interventions including: the upgrade of hardware infrastructure and the deployment of latest software and technology for the improvement of service delivery and to mitigate against sharp practices, and compromise that have for long being pain points for the administration.

In the last two years, the AGIS Management further intensified the use of technology to further enhance its operations, strengthen synergy with its partners and stakeholders, and ensure Ease of Doing Business for its customers. These interventions amongst others include:

    • Upgrade of AGIS Data Centre Infrastructure to meet with the increasing demand for digital services and geospatial data and align with global best practices.
    • Commissioning of the Accelerated Area Councils and Sectional Title Reissuance Scheme (AACSTRIS) project office to facilitate the Regularization of Area Council and Sectional Titles. As the project coordinator, AGIS provided office space and Deployed ICT and GIS Infrastructure and software and technical resources for the operations of the scheme
    • Provision of Alternative solar power solution for the Enterprise infrastructure to ensure 24/7 uptime and uninterruptible service delivery;
    • Establishment of network connectivity via fibre optics, VPN and cloud to stakeholders for real time data sharing and collaboration. This is also to enable the Extension of AGIS services including GIS, Land Information system, Web Map, Storage and content management Services and others to sister Secretariat Department and Agencies;
    • Deployment of Enterprise hybrid Accounting Solutions integrated with Land and AGIS workflows, which is to be extended to other revenue generating stakeholders for Seamless billing, revenue collection, remittance, receipting, reconciliation and analysis;
    • Online payment system for ground rent for customers to register with their property details, access their bills and make payments in real time from the comfort of their homes or from any location across the globe;
  • Development and deployment of Enterprise Web GIS solution (Geomedia M.App Enterprise) to provide workflows that are fully customized for each Department to enable them work on the same platform FCT wide, while still using their traditional tools. 

With your experience in the last few years in geographic information systems and land management, what other innovative approach can you say has impacted the running of AGIS under your watch?

We use technology. Technology is dynamic and constantly evolving. Tools available for us today like Enterprise Cloud, Big Data and Artificial intelligence were not there some years ago. For us in AGIS, we are leveraging on technologies and skills available to innovate and improve the security, speed, accuracy, reach and methods of our processes and services. We have over the years also introduced Business intelligence tools (Power Bi) to effectively mine, analyse and present data and information with accuracy for critical decision making.

With the incorporation of enterprise GIS, location intelligence on analysis tool adds extra layer of information essential for enhancing security, enforcement, revenue recovery and city management including other operations of the stakeholder Departments.

We have recently started moving out legacy tools to flexible and scalable platforms to ensure that we are able to quickly tweak the system to implement new policies and fill in identified gaps and loopholes. Furthermore, interactions with our customers and brainstorming with stakeholders avail us with insights and feedback we use to immediately change the system to accommodate requirements.

We have invested in cloud technology resources and skills. Azure cloud available to the FCTA through the Microsoft Volume License software agreement is utilized by AGIS to provide online collaboration and video conferencing tools like teams and SharePoint online, and provide Intranet portals and online application accessible through the Internet for Departments like Parks and Recreation, where access to AGIS services cannot be provided via optical fibre connectivity because of location. We also leverage on these cloud services to host our online payment services and web maps.

Land policies are part of the national policies on promoting objectives such as economic development, social justice, equity and political stability. How can you describe the synergy between AGIS and other relevant agencies/parastatals in terms of security of tenure, efficient land markets, real property taxation, land use control, environmental management, amongst others?

As a Geospatial Data Infrastructure (GDI) and the official provider of Geospatial data and Land Information for the FCT, AGIS has in its digital repository and archives, data layers from different stakeholders, raster and planning records, scanned documents, land registry information, records of plot ownership, cadastral data, history images, transaction, payments, change of ownership and registration records, etc. collaboration between AGIS and other relevant agencies/parastatals mostly centres around sharing of data and GIS and ICT support. 

Some of the relationships like those with Area Councils, Surveying & Mapping, Land Administration, Water Board, FGN Houses, Mass Housing, Development Control, Resettlement and Compensation, Transport Services, Engineering Services,  FCT-IRS, FIRS and the Federal Ministry of Finance and its Department and Agencies involves the AGIS providing them with data on land ownership and location for debt recovery, revenue drive and tax enforcement while in return, AGIS gets a system for confirming tax status of its clients.

For Agencies like CAC and NIMC, interactions with AGIS are to have them provide a system for confirmation of corporate registration and individual NIN, needed to update the AGIS customer database. Security Agencies: Police, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, and the Military regularly request information from AGIS for their investigations and maps for logistics and insight.

The AGIS system as a whole was initially design to serve as a technology hub where Departments of the FCTA will outsource their ICT and GIS needs. The M.App and Dynamics 365 applications for Web GIS and Land Administrations, Finance and Operations, respectively are designed to provide FCT wide services where Environmental Management, City Management, Transportation and Traffic Monitoring, Development Control and host of other will key into the solutions for integrated smart city operations.

Can you briefly unveil the profile, growth pattern, methodologies of re-invention, contemporary designs and projects put in place to meet public needs and achieve social transformation through the AGIS?

Instructively, the Abuja Geographic Information Systems is launching another phase in its operations, activities and services to other GIS applications areas for inclusive service delivery in areas like Agriculture, Health, Education, Water resources and provision of various thematic web maps to the general public and other stakeholders. There is an on-going upgrade of the AGIS infrastructure to enterprise geospatial platform to accommodate the expansion of our daily operations. It is also worthy of note that in addition to the existing Remote Sensing Environmental Resource Data Analyses (ERDAS) Imagine software, we are in the process of procuring another GIS enterprise software with in-built workflows for our primary stakeholder Departments. As part of resettlement monitoring efforts, we have acquired a high resolution Orthophoto in 2020 covering the Federal Capital City and arrangement for the acquisition for 2022 covering the entire Federal Capital Territory is being concluded.