On the 20th August 2019, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, assumed duty as the Director-General/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), at a relatively young age of 39. He is one of the few young Nigerians to have that privilege in recent history.
I was opportune to pass through the same Secondary School with Kashifu, between 1995 and 1997, having joined the school a year earlier than I did. Science Secondary School Kafin Hausa was and is still ranked as one of the best Science Schools in Jigawa State. The school’s admission process was and still is second to none as one has to pass through a rigorous screening process, including examination before securing admission. It was the dream of every young science student in the state to join the school. It may interest many to know that Kashifu joined Science Secondary School Kafin Hausa from an Arabic Secondary School where he successfully completed his Junior Secondary School education. Having passed through the rigorous admission process and passed with flying colours, he was given admission to complete his senior secondary education at Science Secondary School Kafin Hausa in 1994.
Kashifu was very popular as he was the best mathematics student. Those that studied around that time may recall that mathematics was being taught alongside Further Mathematics. Interestingly, despite the difficulty associated with mathematics as well as joining a science school from an Arabic school, he happened to be the best in all categories. Furthermore, instead of keeping the talent that Allah bestowed upon him to himself, he spent most of his time helping his classmates as well as the junior ones understand the concepts being taught. With the challenges of not having enough teachers at the time, I can clearly recall the various instances of him coming to our class to support us with some of the topics in our mathematics syllabus. Interestingly, he was the first that introduced me to Algebra – Fundamentals of Algebraic Functions. This was what endeared him to everyone that resulted into becoming the school’s Prefect, a position he held until he graduated in June, 1997.
Kashifu later secured admission at the prestigious Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi (ATBU) to study Computer Science, and graduated in 2003. He then joined Galaxy Backbone Limited, where he served for nine years, from 2004 – 2013 as well as held several positions such as Network Engineer, IP Network Field Engineer, Senior Network & Lead, IP Operations Team, and Senior Solution Architect & Lead, Technical Solution Design.
Kashifu’s determination to succeed made him to become the first Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) in Nigeria’s Public Sector. He went further to earn several other professional certifications in Project Management, Networking, Telecommunications, Service Management and Solution Design.
Kashifu joined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2014, as a Technology Architect. While at CBN, he dedicated his time to developing a Technology Architecture Repository that gives 360 views of the Bank’s IT Infrastructure and facilitated ease of decision making on new IT investment. He was part of the team that executed software license rationalization that has increased cost savings for the Bank in annual license subscriptions.
While at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Kashifu was one of the highly committed and dedicated students of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. His invitation to join NITDA in 2017 as Technical Assistant to Mr Pantami, who was then the Director-General/CEO, was not a surprise. Furthermore, his appointment as Honourable Minister’s successor was Allah’s way of exemplifying His Mercies. It was well deserved and a reward for his kindness, commitment and dedication, hard work, resilience, honesty, and determination to succeed.
With this development, it can be fair to say that Nigeria has finally answered the call for youth participation in governance; President Muhammadu Buhari has set the pace by Kashifu’s appointment. Interestingly, upon assumption of duty, he immediately hit the ground running. He focused on implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria as well as in contributing to Mr President’s promise of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. His achievement so far on youth empowerment is unprecedented. He initiated and successfully executed several programmes that empowered close to 30,000 youths. Programmes such as the Start-Up Friday, Start-Up Clinic, FutureHack, Tech4COVID-19 Challenge, Capacity Building for Artisans, Girls, Women and People Living with Disabilities, are examples of such programmes. He is also introducing the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme that aims to provide opportunities for building the capacity of both hub owners and start-ups to ensure massive creation of technology entrepreneurs and jobs within the industry.
Another Achievement is the launching of the NITDA Academy for Research and Training on the 29th April, 2020 as well as the unveiling of the Virtual Training Programme by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. I was made to understand that the programme that started in April has so far attracted over 23,000 participants – an unprecedented achievement indeed.
I also noticed a new and transformed NITDA when I visited the agency recently. I was amazed with what has been achieved within a period of less than a year. If you were in NITDA around August last year and you visit the Agency today, you won’t believe your eyes. You will also agree with me that Kashifu is indeed a visionary and transformational leader who is focusing on making NITDA favourably compete with any other IT regulatory agency in the world.
With what Kashifu has achieved so far, I can boldly say that he has indeed made us – the Nigerian Youth – proud. He is our worthy ambassador in Mr President’s administration who has shown that we are Not-Too-Young-to-Lead. When given the opportunity, we will by Allah’s Mercy carry out the responsibility diligently, knowing that it is a trust. It is also a call to all of us, particularly the youth, to have hope in the future of our country. We urge all to give him and his team all the support they may need in coordinating our transition from the traditional economy to the digital economy in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria.
Mustapha Ya’u Gumel wrote from Dutse, Jigawa State. He can be contacted via at e-mail [email protected] or phone at +234-803-879-5965.