Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State has tasked the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, on developing digitalized Agriculture and value chain in the state.
The governor gave the charge at the 1st Jigawa Innovation Summit themed at: ‘Creating a Viable Innovative Ecosystem for Economic Development’, organised by the state government in collaboration with NITDA.
According to him, the state has vast land and water for irrigation, adding that his administration will continue to focus on how to develop digital agriculture and its value chain
Mr Badaru added that the only way to move the country forward was to find solutions for Nigeria’s economic and security challenges.
“We have to look at the areas where we have competitiveness and see how best we can make our economy work through those areas. Like I have always said, we can achieve this largely in Agriculture. We have vast land and water for irrigation in Jigawa. We will continue to focus on how to develop Agriculture and its value chain.
“I want to challenge this Summit to see how best we can to improve in what we are doing and how best we can to create jobs around the value chains in Nigeria digitally.
“We have Informatics Kazaure that produced so many IT professionals in the country. So I expect this Summit to bring to our table advice in our educational arena so that we can do more in developing our youth by making them employers, not just employees,” he added.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali-Pantami, on his part, commended the state government for its drive in Digital Economy.
He particularly expressed his pleasure in how the state government showed its willingness to support the effort of the Federal Government in developing indigenous digital economy in the country.
According to Mr Pantami, the rate of unemployment in the country motivated the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to think outside the box by focusing more on creating potential employers rather than potential employees.
He said: “If you enrolled people in university and they graduated without sufficient skills, they will never be self-reliant, they will always go around looking for jobs. But when you provide digital skills for your citizens, they will be employers of others, which Jigawa Innovation Summit should also focus on.”
He added that if Jigawa State deployed digital innovation to agriculture it would go along the way in creating many jobs and generating revenue for the Federal and State Government.
Also speaking, the NITDA Director-General, Kashifu Inuwa, recalled that the journey to Innovation Summit was more exciting than the theme of the event.
Mr Inuwa further stated how the journey started in January 2020, when Mr Ali-Pantami commissioned Hadejia Community IT Centre.
He said, “While delivering his Keynote Address at the commissioning, the Honourable Minister explained the potential benefit of Digital Economy in our country and Jigawa State in general.
“Our governor showed interest in Jigawa State’s readiness to embrace the initiative, and the Honourable Minister responded positively by directing me to engage all the stakeholders to ensure Jigawa benefits immensely from the Digital Economy.”
The DG said the event organised by Jigawa State Government in collaboration NITDA and YCD, attended by IT experts, entrepreneurs, academia, private sectors and other stakeholders is to put heads together and look for competitive advantage in the state; look at what each local government has, and come up with a strategy that can help unlock opportunities and create prosperity for the citizens.
“Jigawa State has a lot of potential in terms of agricultural resources. Jigawa is the largest producer of dates, hibiscus and gum Arabic in Nigeria, and largest producer of sesames in the whole of Africa. The state also stands third in rice production, and we are utilizing less than 10% of our arable land.
“Recently, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Jigawa, Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar negotiated with stakeholders from Mexico to boost hibiscus production, which is a big plus for us as a nation.”
“All these can be achieved through digital technologies; this is why we are building IT centres across the country. So far, we have established 18 IT community centres out of 27 local governments, and we will build in the remaining ones.
“This is to prepare our future generation and create job opportunities, not only government jobs, but for youths to become self-reliant.
“We are coming with a strategy where the state government can provide an enabling environment that will unlock opportunities.
“In some countries, government jobs are the last resort, because you will make more money in business than in government; you will have more time in your private business than in government,” he concluded.