By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria needs an institution that will produce cutting edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications for education, business, medicine, security among others.
Osinbajo expressed this view in his keynote address at the First Board Meeting/Fund Raising dinner in aid of the establishment of the Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM) on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said that once in the life of a nation or community a vision emerged to do something truly extraordinary; something truly game-changing and capable of decisively impacting the development of a nation.
“I think we are at such a moment here today; we gather to give life to an elite school of Science and Technology.
“Indeed, there must be an institution whose sole objective is to inspire innovation, inventions and research that address the most crucial problems of the nation and the world.
“How do we solve peculiar African health challenges such as Sickle cell Anaemia, fibroids and cancers?
“Clearly we need an institution able to provide the atmosphere to invent agricultural inputs that will guarantee the huge yields per acreage or volumes in dairy and livestock to meet the food security needs of a country headed for the third position in population size in a few short years.
“An institution that will produce cutting edge AI applications for education, business medicine, and security.
“ One that can design the educational innovation required to train millions of children in or out of classrooms all across the country and provide the techniques for delivering opportunities in technology on scale.’’
Osinbajo said that Nigeria must produce world class economists, managers of commerce in a world increasingly disrupted by technology and innovation.
He said the nation must convert its best young minds to creative thinkers, innovators in science, technology, the economy, commerce and public finance.
According to him, Nigeria already has several tertiary institutions of science and technology and management sciences all over the country but NUTM comes with a difference.
“But what is proposed is an Institution intentionally created as a world class centre for the training of the best Nigerian minds and talents.
“The institution must also engage the best academics and scholars, locally and internationally.
“This is not an institution that we have seen the likes before locally; the comparators are the deliberate creation of thinkers in the public and private sectors like ourselves all around the world.
“The vision is clear but the key of course is funding.
“ As is the case with comparable institutions all over the world, the NUTM must have considerable resources to support high quality research.
“The implications of this are vast; to excite research NUTM ought to be able to attract to residence Nobel laureates and international leaders of thought and innovation; that will cost money,’’ he said.
He said a remarkable thing about the initiative was that the people behind it were all people who had been successful in creating high-quality institutions in other fields whether it be in the private or public sector.
The vice president pledged Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that the initiative succeeded as it was not just a project but a vital national resource.
On his part, NUTM board member, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said the aspiration was to build a world-class university in Nigeria that would provide such academic excellence and rigour that would be globally competitive.
The immediate past Minister of Trade and Investment said that the proposed institution would play a central role in repositioning Nigeria and Africa for competitiveness in the 21st century.
“It will provide top-tier education for our children and unlock the many benefits that the ecosystem of a world-class school will produce.
“This university will specialise in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and is positioned to be a landmark centre of excellence that will serve not only Nigeria, but also Africa and beyond,” he said.
In a presentation, NUTM board member, Dr Pramath Sinha, said that the institution would leverage learnings from young institutions in countries like India and would focus on research and innovation.
He said that NUTM would target to be among top 50 young universities in the world.