By Henry Umoru
DEPUTY President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo Agege said on Sunday that Nigeria must accelerate advancements in technology and innovations in order to realize critical development goals in the Digital Age.
According to Omo-Agege, Nigeria can leapfrog into a great future through the adaptation of technology and utilization of innovations to boost institutional capacity, expand access to quality healthcare and boost productivity in agriculture along with other critical sectors.
Speaking yesterday while presenting a paper titled ‘Technology, Innovation and National Development’ at the 2019 Luncheon organized by the Lagos Branch of Government College Ughelli Old Boys Association (GCUOBA), Senator Omo-Agege commended the branch chairman, Mr. Sam Omatseye who doubles as Chairman of THE NATION newspaper’s Editorial Board.
In a statement signed yesterday by his Special Adviser, Media, Yomi Odunuga, the Deputy President of the Senate also eulogized the event’s Special Guest of Honour and President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Alhaji Ismaila Funtua who chaired the luncheon, stressing that since 1945, the institution has been producing a galaxy of distinguished alumni whose contributions to nation-building have been most admirable, laudable and salutary.
He said, “There is no doubt that our nation has been a major beneficiary of this huge investment in education as products of Government College Ughelli have had their exemplary footprints well established in various sectors including the real sector, science, engineering, publishing, diplomacy, law, business, public service, academia and journalism.
“These spectacular accomplishments and prodigious feats could not have been possible without the application of technological and innovative skills, knowledge, and stability. With technology and innovation increasingly occupying pivotal roles in our national development process, the task of effectively leveraging this special field for optimal development has become germane, and indeed imperative for all sectors of our national life.
“For example, in our current market-driven media industry with the advent of globalization and expansion in digitization, the all-important role of technology cannot be over-emphasized; technology has become the soul of many businesses including small and large-scale corporations.
“Though the dialogue on the all-important setting of technology in our development process seems to resonate perfectly with the broad spectrum of our society, not many have taken time to critically examine the subject matter and its overall implications for national development.”
Pointing out that advances in technology and innovation have witnessed an exponential increase since the First Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the 1770s, Senator Omo- Agege said that three Industrial Revolutions that produced the steam engine, age of science and mass production and the rise of digital technology significantly transformed the world.
He said, “The complexity of these technologies and their emergent nature make many aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution feel unfamiliar and, to many, threatening; we should therefore remember that all industrial revolutions are ultimately driven by the individual and collective choices of people.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution may look and feel like an exogenous force with the power of a tsunami, but in reality, it is a reflection of our desires and choices. At the heart of discussions around emerging technologies there is a critical and central question: what do we want these technologies to deliver for us.:
Noting that several global trends of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, robotics, facial recognition, paperless learning and cashless economy are already being adapted for use in Nigeria, Senator Omo-Agege applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian banks and developers of various new applications and e-payment platforms.
He said, “But to sustain this growth, accelerate technological and innovative advancement, there are specific dynamics that would play critical roles; first, while the individual efforts and strides are commendable, there is need for sustained synergy between the private sector and the public sector
“Secondly, there is need to key into the Buhari-led Next Level Agenda which includes empowering the Ministry of Science and Technology and other relevant agencies of government to harness the untapped skills of our young men and women in the technological sector for national development.
“Thirdly, while some of these attainments are commendable, there is the need to back some of them with appropriate legislations to protect institutional patent rights and intellectual property,” Senator Omo-Agege stated while expressing optimism about Nigeria’s prospects for an enabling environment where technology and innovation can thrive.
Personalities at the GCUOBA luncheon include the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Publisher of Vanguard newspaper, Mr. Sam Amuka; Brigadier-Gen. Oviemo Ovadje (rtd) OFR; Prof. Olu Akinwoju, Architect Charles Majoroh among others.