Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Book Review: “Pantami: Trials and Triumphs of a Digital Economy Maestro”

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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I was delighted when my big brother, Mallam Yushau Shuaib – a cerebral PR expert, writer and publisher of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential – visited my family recently in London and requested that I write a review on his new book “Pantami: Trials and Triumphs of a Digital Economy Maestro.”

While I viewed his request as a special honour, the short notice however gave me a little concern. But being my benefactor, mentor and truly caring brother of nearly two decades, I had no option but to accede to his request.

From the cover, one could read the short blurb on the book by Professor Adeola Akande, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).

According to Akande, the book is: “Much more than just being a chronicle of the vicissitudes of a respected scholar of the digital experience and faith, it is a testament to a crucial period in the life of a country.”

The chair of the NCC Board of Commissioners’ blurb set the stage for what readers should expect inside the revelatory contents of Yushau’s blockbuster, non-literary piece.

Pantami: Trials and Triumphs of a Digital Economy Maestro has four chapters with each having at least three topics.

In the book’s Chapter One titled: Personal Opinion, the author provides his previously published articles on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. The articles include: That Friendly Call from the Scholar; The Memorable Visit for Digital Innovation; Authority on Cybersecurity and Datafication and Encounter with a Digital Economy Maestro.

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The second Chapter of Yushau’s book is titled Inter-Agency Engagements, with topics that actually address certain inter-agency rivalries.

They include Resisting Multiple Telecom Taxation, The NIN-SIM Linkage Palaver and The War on Stamp Duty.

Similarly, the Chapter Three on Managing External Factors, illustrated major battles or challenges Profesor Pantami had to contend with during his tenure in office as the Minister. The topics are ASUU Battle over IPPIS-UTAS Payment System; On FUTO Professorship and Witch-Hunting or Boko Haram Saga?

Operational Exigencies is the title of the Chapter Four of Yushau’s latest publication, and therein one will find the following articles: NigComsat and the Fear of Privatisation; The Galaxy and Visibility and Record of Accomplishments.

I notice that most of the topics revolve around mandates and activities of agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. Some of the agencies conspicuously mentioned in the book include the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone Limited, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC), and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST).


Some of the topics I found very interesting and intriguing are seemingly controversial. The author narrates how a very long ASUU strike was influenced over a disagreement on the payment system for Nigerian universities’ lecturers, among others.

In “Pantami: Trials and Triumphs of a Digital Economy Maestro,” the author chronicled the feats achieved by Pantami as Nigeria’s Communication and Digital Economy Minister since 2019, to include: the implementation of broadband connectivity across the country, reinvigorating Nigeria’s digital economy sub-sector, and the empowerment of citizens’ ICT skills.

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Others are: the implementation of a Digital Identity Programme, implementation of a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, digitalizing government functions and processes, as well as deployment of 4G across the country.

The controversy over the appointment of the Minister as Professor of Cybersecurity at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) and also, the debate on the Minister’s link to Boko Haram terrorism many years ago, were dispassionately analyzed by the author.

Yushau was also very fair in his narrations as he provided the genesis of the aforementioned thorny issues and how they all ended with the Minister’s triumph against his army of critics.

Using Pantami’s travails as a public office holder, the author observes (in his latest work) that the media are generally more inclined to celebrating conflict and crisis, even as they also, deliberately – and rather unfortunately – censor other crucial sides to stories that could temper the public drift towards hysteria.

As someone who marvels at Pantami’s erudition in both Islamic and Western education, I was appalled by the controversy that trailed his elevation to the rank of Professor by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO. As someone who detests being addressed as “Sheikh” to demonstrate his pedagogical humility, I expected the minister to, in the like manner, throw away the pulpy endocarp of the mango in order to get rid of the flies.

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Indeed, I share the sentiment expressed by Yushau that Pantami, to some extent, triumphed over the endless trials, travails and tribulations that threatened his ministerial and professorial appointments.

As the fireworks intensified and the controversies raged such that the presidency was forced to take positions on some of the issues, one of the hidden facts, that is not stated in this book was that Mallam Yushau, a PR warlord, sat with his top commanders in his PR bunker in Wuye Abuja. He deployed his arsenals strategically and fired from the cylinders of traditional and new media with remarkable marksmanship. At the end of the day, the author’s PR warfare paid up. The rest are now history.

I think one day I will also write a book titled “An Encounter With A Spin-Master” in honour of Alhaji Yushau’s outstanding PR feats, just the way he authored “An Encounter With A Spymaster” in honor of Colonel Sambo Dasuki’s feats in espionage and military intelligence.

In conclusion, I recommend this latest edifying and intellectually stimulating book to PR practitioners, students, communication experts and players in digital innovation and ICT, among others. PR managers in particular will also find the book relevant in learning the ropes of solving dire image crisis.

Mr Jaafar writes from London, United Kingdom.

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