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By NBF News
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WHERE lies the future of Cross River State within the context of national and global competitiveness and who is capable of delivering that future?

ThisĀ  question may look complex to engage, evaluate and provide a responsively proactive solution. However, on a closer look, we begin to understand that, though, it is a food for thought at this particular time in the history of the State, the answer to the above question comes handy and indeed very simple!

Worldwide IT spending forecast for 2011 was to crest at $3.67 trillion, a 7.1 percent jump from the $3.42 trillion spent globally in 2010, according to figures compiled by researcher Gartner Inc. ICT has remained the single largest turnover index and economic development instrument for the past four decades!

The researcher forecast that global spending on computer hardware will run up by nearly 12 percent in 2011 to some $419 billion, has come to pass.

In similar vein, worldwide spending for enterprise software was expected to reach $268 billion in 2011 homing in a 9.5 percent increase. In Gartner's view, the lion's share of IT spending in 2011 was generated by services, with some $846 billion, a 6.6 increase over 2010, and telecom at $2.1 trillion, for a 7 percent bump from 2010 totals.

Inalienable fact
All the above point to one inalienable fact, that is, future development, creation of wealth and prosperity of nations will be dictated by innovation and services in ICT. It also, translates to the fact, that any visionary nation and/or state can champion a 'people-first' development empowerment through ICT.

Opportunity: Today, with all indications, Cross River State - more than any other state - has the singular opportunity to become a knowledge hub and strategic force for ICT Nigeria.

The two critical factors that will determine and shape the future of Cross River State and her people are embedded in the synergy of Leadership and the governed; where the latter plays a significant role in ensuring that a great leader emerges with capabilities to govern and remodel Cross River State into a knowledge-based and prosperous entity.

The state is currently at the threshold of emerging as a global address for prosperity and a state development model that will significantly empower the citizenry and accelerate wealth creation is of strategic imperative.

However, this may definitely not be feasible without the enthronement of the fundamental benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at all levels - an inevitable ecosystem that guarantees the future and economic stability of Cross River State.

Vision to transform Tinapa
This amongst other considerations is why the next governor of Cross River State must be, not only an ICT enthusiast, but an ICT-ready and knowledge iconoclast, a determined and confident leader with a vision to transform Tinapa into a global knowledge hub to power the sustainable development of the state in particular and the nation in general.

The person and character of the next governor-elect of Cross River State is critical to the future of the state. Should the people of the state therefore not put their destiny in their hands by electing a true and tested performer - with an enviable ICT record?

As we are aware, the Nigerian Enterprise Project is and remains one of the most intriguing and complex development undertakings, whose core dynamics, attributes and precarious state is anchored on a weak Science and Technology education foundation and constructive leadership.

Cross River State is part of this complex equation and solution thereof. Indeed, that seems to represent the bulk and sum-total of our development vulnerability and instability in the engaging ICT-centric global competitiveness, inspite of our rich human resource potentials.

Is Cross River State e-ready for the knowledge economy?

Going by the global e-readiness index, the status of Cross River State may not be encouraging, but these are challenges that can readily be turned into windows of opportunity, if only the electorate can leverage on lessons learnt from ICT - especially on how to harness and maximize the use of our human capital.

Cross River State has started to emerge as the ICT knowledge hub of Nigeria, with the planned world-class Tinapa Knowledge City. Thank you to the vision of Senator Liyel Imoke, who convincingly championed the promotion and development of the start-up process, by hosting the first International Software Conference and national Software Competition in collaboration with the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) in October 2011.

With all humility of purpose, it is instructive to state that, informed by my more than three decades of ICT experience in the Nigerian landscape, no other Governor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has constructively promoted and championed the development of information and communications technology as much as Senator Lyel Imoke.

Little wonder therefore that he was crowned the Digital Governor 2011 during the International Conference, attended by a record crowd of 789 participants from Nigeria, India, Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast, USA and 22 universities who participated in the National Software Competition.

As we migrate speedily into the emerging depth of global Knowledge-Olympiad (KO), the fabric of our national and state development programme - remains a mirage fuelled by science and technology haemorrhage! We need to elect true ICT champions to move Cross River State and by extension, Nigeria to a world state.

To do his, we must stop prescribing panadol as the cure for leprosy, rather, we must elect a true ICT champion as the governor to light-up Cross River State with tested 21st Century knowledge. The bird is in our hands and must survive!