In 2016, I wrote a piece for the column titled, Who is a Computer Professional? Quite frankly, three years down the line, I am writing what can be termed, a follow-up to that piece, owing to some recent developments that have occurred.
Before I proceed, let me state that the first piece was written after a comment by the then President of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Vincent Asor, in which he promised to deal with those he referred to as quacks within the Information Technology industry.
His comment back then read in part, “By the nature of the profession, which makes it possible for a lot of people to use IT tools in their day to day operations, some people are now claiming to be what they are not. Also, those who are not qualified to execute IT jobs are the ones getting it. This is quite absurd and unacceptable to us; therefore, as professionals, you have to join forces with us in fighting the scourge.”
That statement infuriated a lot of techies who do not feel the need to be part of any of such bodies, whether CPN, Nigeria Computer Society, or a few others, in order to operate anywhere in Nigeria. Don Caprio of doncaprio.com wrote a post titled, The Dinosaurs of Nigeria’s Information Technology are the worst.”
In that post, Caprio stated that by CPN’s definition, Bill Gates is a quack and Mark Zuckerberg, who was also not a professional when he started Facebook, is a ‘quack.’ He went further to say, “Come to think of it, where were these so-called professionals when the ‘quacks’ practicing IT in Nigeria developed our beloved Computer Village in Ikeja to become the mega IT business hub it is today?” He advised CPN to seek to change the law rather than issue threats.
My sentiments today are the same as they were in 2016 and that is that the gap between the old bloc and young techies of today is wide and keeps getting wider. We simply need to update our laws to conform to the speed of today. The way technology has evolved has completely blurred the lines on who is or is not a computer professional or technology practitioner.
In more advanced climes also, it is a known fact that anything relating to tech or digital is usually open to anyone interested. It is also widely known that minors who are highly talented are building apps that are capable of solving problems. Are those kids too going to be registered and listed as members of the CPN as well as go through certification examinations before they can express their God-given innovative talents?
Today, CPN has a new President in the person of Prof. Charles Uwadia, who, by the way, is a visionary that is unfortunately armed with a completely outdated law in an industry moving nearly at the speed of light.
In a recent parley with the press, he stated as follows, “We are mandated to regularly publish lists of licensed members of the council and anybody whose name is not in our register is considered as a quack.”
“Implementation of the law is very important in this country and for us in the council, we desire to have as many registered professionals as possible,” President of CPN, Uwadia added.
In that parley, he tried to sell the benefits, but the big question is, how does that fit into the desires and expectations of a lot of young people in Nigeria today? How do you explain to a guy who creates an app to solve a real problem and is gaining traction that he needs to go join a body, but first he has to sit for an examination? Why would he or she want to do that?
In another vein, Prof. Adesina Sodiya emerged as the new President of Nigeria Computer Society. I honestly wonder why NCS has become an extension of the classroom because the last three presidents have been folks largely linked to the academia.
Is the association designed by law to be largely populated by folks from the academia? Does the fact that I am a professor of computer science make me the best guy for the job? These are a few questions begging for answers.
Anyways, when the news of the emergence of the new NCS president broke on an industry-based WhatsApp group, I sent him a congratulatory message that reads, “Congratulations! My two kobo: to move the profession forward, please don’t use your professorial lenses in your strategy. As you know, computer science has gone beyond the classroom onto the field. Indeed an era of disruption sir…..”
I want to trust that the new President would welcome and appreciate comments like these because we live in a country where feedback is regarded as quarrel. Well, my humble advice to anyone reading this piece at this moment, is that times have changed and the sooner industry-based organisations understand this the better for the entire tech ecosystem.
Take a look around you today and you wonder who really is a computer professional. Going by the law setting up CPN, would folks like Obi Uzor, Co-Founder of Kobo360 or Jason Njoku, Co-Founder of IrokoTV or Kola Aina of Ventures Platform Hub and many others, be referred to as ‘quacks’ because they are not on the CPN list of professionals?
My final thoughts on this would be that organisations like the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, CPN, NCS, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, should go back to the drawing board and re-strategise in order to see how to pull in the younger minds who by the way, are not waiting to be accepted rather, doing everything within their capacity to disrupt the current system.