By Chijioke Okoronkwo, Abuja.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says with the right platforms, young Nigerians will always rise up to national and global challenges, while finding solutions to them through innovation and technology.
A statement by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice-president made the declaration in a pre-recorded keynote address, which was delivered at the Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech) N50 billion Endowment Fund Launch in Lagos.
The vice-president said that in addition to government funding, there must be robust private sector interventions to further drive world-class, ground-breaking research and cutting-edge innovation in the country’s higher institutions.
“Institutions of higher learning are proving ground for our best ideas, the birthplaces of innovation and ground-breaking research.
“They are also, to all intents and purposes, designed to guide and nurture a society’s pathway into the future.
“Research and inquiry may lead to revolutionary discovery or lead nowhere; either way, the process is expensive and can only depend on large sums of patient capital.
“How do you fund world-class, relevant, cutting-edge higher education sustainably?
“The question has even greater resonance in Africa where public resources are low and the poverty levels put access to quality education beyond the reach of many.”
Osinbajo said that endowments had helped to drive some of the most important global discoveries across different sectors.
According to him, YabaTech is one of the best institutions to use as proof of the concept that Nigeria can, indeed, develop world-class higher institutions for innovation and research, using both private and public-sector finance.
“The N50 billion ambition of this endowment fund mirrors your vision for this great institution and demonstrates your keen awareness of what is truly at stake.
“And we must approach this with a sense of mission and duty.
“We must augment government’s finest intentions with our individual and collective desire to see us do better, to see Africa do better; to see our children step into global arenas of enormous and unprecedented opportunities.
“One thing is clear: young Nigerians will always rise to the stature of the challenges the world presents them and even beyond, if we continue to provide a platform for them to stand on,” he said.
Osinbajo spoke on Federal Government’s commitment to increasing budget allocation to the education sector, referring to the sums allocated and not percentages of the total budget.
“Year on year, we increased budget allocation to the sector in a way no government before us had done.
“We took capital allocation for education up to N35.99 billion in 2016 and stretched it further to N56.81 billion in 2017.
“By 2018, we had increased capital budget allocations for the sector to N102.9 billion and the trajectory has remained upward.
“In 2019, N620 billion was allocated to education; in 2020, N671.07 billion was allocated and in 2021, N742.5billion was allocated to education.”
The vice-president, however, noted that it was unrealistic to rely on public finance alone for higher education, especially in a country with the size of Nigeria.
Osinbajo highlighted the nexus between the success of the Yaba technology and innovation community in Lagos – widely known and referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Nigeria”, due to the concentration of tech and innovation companies within the environment.
“I think it is the case that the tech start-ups from Yaba have grown and flourished into highly profitable businesses, with some of these businesses attaining the status of unicorns.
“Unicorns are companies, worth over a billion dollars, because of the highly skilled graduates in modern technology, management and other fields of study that have come out of YabaTech,” he said.
The vice-president urged the institution’s management to reach out to its extensive alumni networks and rally the best of Nigerians together for the achievement of the vital cause.
According to him, it is time to demonstrate stakeholder’s commitment to “succeeding generations and our sense of legacy.
“The best skills in investment and management must be recruited; endowment funds are to be invested wisely with the best professional guidance.”
Osinbajo commended the governing body of the YabaTech, as well as its administrative and teaching staff for the initiative.
He expressed confidence that the institution’s track record and the endowment fund would help to reposition YabaTech as one of the frontline institutions that would determine the future of technology, innovation and creativity in Africa and the world.