An ICT expert and former Squadron Leader in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Adefolajuwon Amoo (rtd) has raised the alarm over an alleged plan by the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), to impose new tariffs worth N180 billion per annum on Nigerians.
This was even as he also alleged an intellectual property infringement and violation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s executive order number 5 by the Director-General of NIPOST, Mr. Bisi Adegbuyi.
He alleged that the NIPOST under the leadership of Adegbuyi stole his idea to the Federal Government into promoting a foreign technology called “What3words” owned by Mr Chris Sheldrik, a UK-based company, which is contrary to President Buhari’s Executive Order number 5 which gives priority to indigenous innovation so as to replace foreign technologies.
At a press conference which took place on 18th September 2018 in Abuja, Squadron Leader Adefola Amoo (rtd) said he felt it necessary to call to the attention of the nation that NIPOST Director General, Mr Bisi Adegbuyi, has violated Executive Order No 5 which was instituted by the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to promote the product of indigenous innovators like himself.
Indeed, on page 5, item number 6, at the Preference Section of Executive Order No 5, it is actually stated that indigenous technology will be adopted to replace foreign ones.
The indigenous technology developed by Squadron Leader Adefola Amoo (rtd) is called GridCodes. Our checks show that the technology has been available for over a year on the Google Play store since 13 September 2017.
GridCodes allows you to generate codes similar to Post Codes and Zip Codes for your home/business addresses or any where you happen to be at any time.
All you need to do is to be at the location and one click will give you a code. You can add that code to your address or share it with people that need to meet you for business, deliveries or to socialise. The technology works in all countries in the world, it is instantly available and free to use. GridCodes has been accepted for Patent processing in Nigeria and at the US Patent Office.
The foreign technology from UK adopted by NIPOST is called “What3Words”.
A search on the company’s website and other media outlets showed that it’s co-founder Chris Sheldrick as well as Mr Bisi Adegbuyi have extensively broadcasted adoption of What3Words by NIPOST.
It seems the UK technology does exactly what GridCodes do using a different method. The UK Technology has mapped the surface of the earth and allocated 3 words to identify each 3m x 3m spot. Putting the associated 3 words into their system will get you to the location. The UK technology has also been accepted for patent processing in the UK. The technology is also free to use for individuals, like GridCodes is.
In this situation, it remains to be seen why Mr Adegbuyi of NIPOST has preferred to adopt a UK Technology when according to the Squadron Leader, he had been informed since 18 Jan of this year of his product. This would seem like an excellent opportunity to use a local tech to solve a local problem. It would have justified the existence of Executive Order No 5 and could have been an example of local innovation which could have been pushed globally. A much needed positive story to come out of Nigeria.
Strangely, though, on 10th September 2018, The DG NIPOST flatly denied the adoption of a foreign technology. The denial occurred at the 38th minute of an interview he granted to Bisi Folarin on the morning show of TVC. He categorically said “…there is nothing foreign about it”. How can this be so, when Mr Chris Sheldrick of What3Words granted an interview to Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria on 16th August, 2017. People deny and tell lies when they have been caught committing an offence. That seems to be what is happening here because there is overwhelming evidence in the public domain that NIPOST did adopt foreign technology.
The digital footprint of a nation’s population is the newest natural resource. Mr Bisi Adegbuyi has unwittingly rented out another sector of this natural resource to foreigners to exploit exclusively.
In doing so, he has foisted hardship on the population by demanding 1,000 naira from each of us annually for a service that is free from the UK and free from a Nigerian provider as well.
The UK company would have participated in allowing this potential N180bn fraud because they know that the value is not in the 1,000 naira that Mr Adegbuyi is aiming to collect. Rather the value is in broad adoption which will then setup future streams of revenue that will be accessed through technology as well.
Critical components of our Tech implementation is in foreign hands, our telecommunication, our internet, our satellite TV, our ride sharing, social media and now our addressing has been given to a foreign company when a local company exists already doing it in an innovative way that is recognised by international intellectual protection agencies.
Reacting, spokesman of NIPOST, Frank Alao, said the allegations were baseless. He described the NIPOST boss as a sincere person, who is neither a thief or a liar.
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