The online news publication Rest Of World has done a lengthy feature on 2017 Tutu Fellow Bosun Tijani PhD, titled He was a tech rebel. Then he joined the government. Calling him a celebrity in Nigeria's tech space, it outlined how his transition from the private sector to government began bumpily when lawmakers were less interested in his professional accomplishments than his twitter account at his hearing. His apologies over critical tweets were accepted and he became the new Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy. Coming directly from the tech sector, the piece describes his appointment as a positive change from career politicians.
Bosun's nomination generated a flood of comments on Twitter, where he had more than 100 thousand followers, and his name was a trending topic in Nigeria for days.
The article outlined how the weight President Tinubu had given to the sector led to his appointment. And in similar fashion to Bosun's growing of tech at CcHub, the incubators he started and led, a key ambition of his is to make Nigeria a bigger exporter of tech products, services, and talent. This includes a plan to train three million people in tech skills over the next four years. His Ministry was created to use the digital world for job creation and economic growth. It also oversees several key government agencies and regulates mobile phone and postal services, and is also meant to generate foreign economic investment.
The piece goes into the challenges Bosun will face - layoffs, cuts to startup funding, poor digital literacy, limited internet access available and the high cost of data. Even Gbenga Sesan, a 2007 Fellow who is quoted in the piece, feels that Bosun is going to have his work cut out for him. Gbenga is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a Nigeria-based pan-African nonprofit working on digital rights and inclusion. “There have been promises for many years and this may be a different minister but it is the same government.” “Bosun has said the digital economy is President Tinubu’s priority, but is it really?”
The piece goes on to describe how the controversy of the elections could make it more difficult for Bosun to prove himself to the public. It is something he is working on. Bosun said: “I think part of the challenges as a new leader is, how do we intentionally create trust between public officials and the people that they lead?” He says he has also come to appreciate the difficulty of balancing doing what is right in the long term with doing what people need in the immediate.
“When you think about it really, the way it’s been set up, there’s a high chance that, as a minister, you don’t get much done because there’s a whole lot of meetings you’re doing.” “To actually sit down and get the work done, you have to be extremely intentional, and ensure that your team is also not distracted. So, you have to create time for it. Because I’m still just five or six weeks into the job, I’m still learning how to strike a balance.” But being visible is also important, he says - a large part of his role in government is about selling hope: “You know, that’s your job as leaders."
Read the article at Rest Of World.
Header image is from the article.