Why IT remains vital

The importance of information technology has again been stressed. This time around, the President, Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Sir Jare Oyesola, has lent his voice by calling on Nigerian youths to develop useful skills in ethical hacking, computer security, coding, data analysis, and block chain technology in innovation hubs. He spoke on the topic, “Technopreneurship in the Age of Global Citizenship”, at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Matriculation Ceremony for the 2020/2021 Academic Session, as the 9th Commencement Lecturer of the University. Sir Oyesola condemned the societal mismanagement of digital culture, stating that Nigerian youths had been stereotyped and often misunderstood when they are coding for international companies.

According to him, “I cannot, but talk about the societal mismanagement of digital culture, which is often called Yahoo-Yahoo. Our youths have been stereotyped and often misunderstood when they are coding for international companies. Our policy holders, law enforcement agents and society, as a result of lack of understanding and cultural conflict, often mistake such that any youth with laptops are tagged as criminals when they lack the tools of investigation and sufficient knowledge to identify one”. He advised that rather than being labelled as criminals, many of the youths should be reoriented, even if they had misused the tools and their skills redirected after positive outcomes, noting that any tool, including the cutlass, could be used for good or bad purposes. He further harped on the need for universities and private sectors to create innovation hubs for young graduates, in order to allow them to adequately explore their ideas.

Sir Oyesola, however, challenged students and Nigerian youths in general to create wealth for themselves and avoid depending on others so as to be celebrated as heroes of the global economy. Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Kolawole Salako, had also charged newly-matriculated students of the University to be responsible citizens, saying that the institution has zero tolerance for anti-social behaviours. Delivering his address at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor said as students, one of their primary responsibilities was to acquaint themselves with University rules and regulations, stating that they were required to strictly comply with them that even though, FUNAAB recognises and appreciates students’ rights, the University Management would not tolerate any form of destructive acts or tendencies by students all in the name of unionism.

According to him, “You are to note that the students’ unionism is available on campus, ours is devoid of thuggery and hooliganism, but with decorum and constructive dialogue. Failure of dialogue means there is still room for more dialogue. To us, dialogue is better than confrontation, and so the University will, therefore, not tolerate any form of destructive acts by students in the name of unionism”. The Vice-Chancellor enjoined students to lodge any form complaints bordering on harassment through the Student Affairs Division, stating that the University would always recognise the rights of students and protect them. The Professor of Soil Physics further urged them to dress decently and appropriately at all times, saying that while they respect traditional and moral cultures in the University, it should not be taken for granted. Prof. Salako reiterated that FUNAAB was committed to its vision and mission of producing graduates that are adequately equipped to handle contemporary challenges through cutting edge research for development in agriculture and science that is equally driven by Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

In a similar vein,the Federal Government has been advised to encourage indigenous software applications in the industries, companies and tertiary institutions by promoting home-made software applications in Nigeria. This admonition was given by the 68th Inaugural Lecturer of FUNAAB, Prof. Adio Akinwale, who spoke on the topic, “Bigger and Better Database for Innovative Advancement in Industrial Revolution” at the Oluwafemi Balogun Ceremonial Building of the University. The Professor sought for an urgent harmonisation of all databases in the country including those of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, among others.

The Don emphasised the importance of using data for economic and national planning purposes, adding that the introduction of biometrics into the National Identification Number (NIN) system could serve as the nation’s central database management platform. He maintained that such efforts could play broader roles in driving socio-economic development and security of the nation. Prof. Akinwale, who doubles as the Dean, College of Physical Sciences (COLPHYS) of FUNAAB, said for specialised universities like FUNAAB, there should be a special Department of Agricultural Informatics that would combine experts’ knowledge from both agricultural and science domains to bring research benefits to the communities. Earlier, the chairman of the occasion and FUNAAB’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako had described the Inaugural Lecturer as an accomplished scholar, whose contributions to the mandate of the University was immeasurable. From the above interventions, it can safely be deduced that Nigerian youths and the nation stand to benefit immensely from the available IT opportunities, provided they are well harnessed and deployed.

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