He’s a square page in a square hole — Prof. Utomi
By: Don Pedro Aganbi
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has emerged the winner of the 2019 Zik Prize, in the professional leadership category.
Announcing the winners in a webinar on Thursday, September 24, 2020, Prof. Pat Utomi, a member of the Advisory Board of the prestigious award, said Prof, Danbatta and Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA) are the winners in that category.
“Prof Umar Garba Danbatta is a square page in a square hole. An academic professor, Danbatta has, through the NCC, led the charge to drive Nigeria’s industrial revolution and knowledge-based economy leveraging telecommunications,” he explained.
According to Prof. Utomi, “telecommunications’ contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria has grown by 70 per cent from 2015 to 2020, whilst broadband penetration has leaped from 8 percent to 42 percent, in the same period.”
“His leadership has enhanced transparency and innovation in the sector, such that recently, NCC was acknowledged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as one of Africa’s foremost regulator,” he observed.
In a letter of nomination in July 2020, which was jointly signed by the Chairman of the Board, Senator Jubril Aminu, CON and Utomi, the NCC boss was described as “an outstanding public servant, whose initiatives and reforms had contributed to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) playing a leading role in the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”
Zik Prize was set up in 1994 in honour of the first President of Nigeria, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, with a view to encouraging and nurturing leadership in Africa and the diaspora.
Among the past winners are: former President of Ghana, J. J. Rawligs (1995); Late Nelson Mandela, President Yonweri Muzeveni of Uganda and former Chairman of NCC’s Governing Board, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, among other illustrious leaders of the continent.
Among this year’s winners, however, include the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawal and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustafa, who won in political leadership and public service categories, respectively.
Others are Governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara Zulum, his counterpart from Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Oyo State Governor, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, who won in good governance category