Interview

My Vision is a Nigeria Where Software Requirements are Produced and Made Available by our Children.

Software

Olorogun James Emadoye, MD/CEO, BSSL, one of the TOP 20 CEO in ICT for 2019 shared his thoughts on the challenges indigenous software practitioners are grappling with and insisted that one of them is lack of patronage. Excerpts

You have various types of ‘the controller’ products. Let’s talk about some of them?

Well, you’re talking about the enterprise resource planning system and it’s large. It involves all the processes required by an organization to function. You need human capital, which is the most important resource in an organisation. We have the solution to be able to manage them from attendance to leave planning, hiring, recruitment, evaluation, appraisals and all the modules of human capital.

Then you go into the financial aspect, you have the general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, the budget, the fixed asset management, procurement, inventory and all that. Then, you have other modules in investment, you know, biometric features, signatory features and all. So, you are actually talking of a large system. Not only that, depending on the organisation that you are deploying, there are some things specific in nature to such an organisation, which are usually integrated during deployment.

So, what we have is a system that has been developed and built by Nigerians, Nigerians who could be your children, my children, your brother, my brother, your sister, my sister, and we are hoping that as we move forward, we are able to continue to meet up with the technology advancement because one thing that is clear is, in the IT sector, things change.

Maybe you can go to bed and you wake up and you find out that something you have learned yesterday has changed. It is a rapidly growing profession but we thank God that we have Nigerians that are also very smart and are willing to develop faster.

Let’s examine the financial aspect with ICAN

The ICAN programme is just a training programme for new chartered accountants, you know, for them to get some knowledge about technology.  Today, you cannot do anything without having a good background in technology. As a matter of fact, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria [ICAN] has extended that programme further and the institute’s full faculty of IT has been established to develop that programme further so that every chartered accountant is ICT-compliant. So, that is ICAN programme which we are part of designing and executing to ensure that all new chartered accountants are conversant with the technology.

What is driving your vision?

My vision is simply to see a Nigeria where all ICT requirement, software requirements are produced and made available by our children, Nigerians.  My vision is to see a Nigeria where BSSL will become a giant and known by all organisations be it government or private sector.

Let us examine your term as the ISPON President

Okay, let me put it in perspective. Before me, we had the late Simeon Agu, MD/CEO of Neptune Software. He was followed by the Oracle, Chris Uwaje and then Pius Okigbo. I was the next president and by the special grace of God, Dr Yele Okeremi came in after I had completed my term of office. Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria [ISPON] is an advocacy group and an arm of the Nigeria Computer Society, which is also the umbrella body of the profession, which is regulated by the Computer Practitioner Registration Council of Nigeria. So, that is it in the right perspective.

So, if you’re looking at my tenure as President of ISPON, well I took over from Pius Okigbo Jnr. I said that all I was going to do was to criss-cross this country and propagate the news that Nigerian children; your children and my children, can write software codes, which Nigerians will use. To tell Nigerians that we do not need to buy foreign software and to re-emphasize that Nigeria cannot develop as long as our taste for foreign goods is still high. And I am very sure and satisfied that I did that.

And I brought this news to virtually everybody in Nigeria. Like an old woman who is dancing to music and nobody’s clapping, I could shake my head that I have achieved that. I’m very sure that Dr Okeremi will continue that particular gospel. But let’s look at it. We are a country of nearly 200 million people and we are told that 40 per cent of this population is between the age bracket of 15 and 54 years. So, why on earth should Nigeria have problem with poverty? Why should we suffer? Why should we be hungry when we have youth that should be able to work?

So, tell me it’s like you have 10 sons in your house and when it is harvest time, you will go to the man who has one son to buy a tuber of yam. Can you understand it? You have 10 sons, that is, 10 men in your house, when it is harvest time you went to the house of the man who has a son so that you can get your needs. I’m just trying to bring it to you the way I see Nigeria. When I go to Abuja once and I am told that one of the major software that is being used by the Federal Government of Nigeria is from a country called Estonia. I just shook my head because the country called Estonia is a country with just 1.3 million people. It is not up to the size of Ilupeju or Surulere.

So, I need you to think about it. How will you feel if you have 10 sons in your house and during the harvest, you approached a man with one son for your needs? Don’t you think you need to re-evaluate yourself? We need to think and we need to take it very seriously. Something has affected me so much last week. Recently, we were at a function. We were given a pre-inauguration dinner to the vice president of the country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and he told a story that no Nigerians should sit on the fence. He said we should all come to contribute to the nation-building.

He told us a story of what happened many years back while he was a lecturer at the University of Lagos. He said three Sudanese students came to Nigeria and later on they became Justice of the Supreme Court of their country. But when the war broke out, they lost everything to the extent that when he went there as a United Nation worker, he saw the Supreme Court Justices on a queue with bowls begging for food that is being distributed.

I have been thinking about this story and I could just tell you something. Jerry Gana used to say it in those days that if you’re a manager, manage well. If you are a commissioner, commission well. If you are a Governor, govern well. If you’re a Minister, minister well. If you are a President, president well. What I am saying is that we all must be serious about Nigeria. Otherwise, at the rate of unemployment in the streets, at the rate of frustration in the streets, we are praying that serious challenges will not happen to this country.

All the people that think that the only way to make money is to travel abroad, buy something for $1 million and come to Nigeria to sell it for N2 billion should stop it. What is the essence of sending your children to school, if you will not be able to put them to work? What is the essence of finishing university and all you now do is to think of how to go to Canada? Why can’t we make this country a country of choice, a country that other people want to come to? It is for you to think about.

This also brings me to software development and the emergence of some of the indigenous software such as Remita and the likes.

Well, creation of hubs are good, they are relevant. We have some good software that has already been made, there are more in the street. The major problem is patronage. Now, I need you to understand this and everybody needs to understand this; there is no good software until it is put to use.

As a matter of fact, there is no software until it is put to use. You must have followed the story of Microsoft. When the software is released, then they would listen to reports from the users. They would listen to feedbacks and then they would do what we call patches, revisions and review to correct the software. No software is perfect until it is put to use.  You would have remembered the story of the flights that took off and then software crashed it.

Now, when those who developed the software would have thought that the software is perfect, but they may not have tested that practical usage where the pilot was battling to tip the plane up and the software was forcing it down.  When software is developed, it has to be put to use and it has to go through the process of being fully used before you can say that the software is good or is working.

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