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    With innovative ideas, youths can solve local, global challenges –Buhari

    The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has said that though the Federal Government’s National Development Plan 2021-2025 will chart a new path for Nigeria’s future, her youth can find solutions to present and future local and global challenges with the right ideas, innovation and application of technology.

    Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was speaking on Saturday at the 60th anniversary of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in Osun State.

    Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘OAU 60: Young Nigerians, graduates are charting Nigeria’s brighter future – Osinbajo’.

    As the Special Guest of Honour at the convocation ceremony of the University, the President told the graduating class that the future belonged to them; urging them to take advantage of it.

    According to him, while young Nigerians, particularly the OAU graduands, stood on the shoulders of great men and women before them, the onus is on their generation to “deal with the biggest issues that confront the world, and our nation.”

    “And it is big and innovative ideas that will solve those problems. You will have to confront the problems of climate change and a world moving away from fossil fuels, and you will usher in the age of renewable energy and green solutions,” the Vice President noted.

    He added that this generation of young Nigerians are equipped and could proffer solutions in the areas of education, agriculture, health care and security.

    “Yes, the challenges are huge, but you are well equipped to resolve them; and the evidence is there… Since 2016, despite two recessions, young Nigerians have built 6 unicorns; a unicorn is a company that is valued at over a billion dollars,” he explained.

    Buhari added that, “You will deal with the issues of feeding, educating, providing healthcare and jobs for the fourth largest population in the world in a few decades. We will need smarter Agric solutions to feed the huge numbers, technology is already helping to crowd-fund Agriculture and develop more prolific seedlings.

    “You will confront the need to vastly improve our public and clinical healthcare. We must build on the work of the Genomic Centre at Ede, and the local vaccine production efforts going on already and make local drugs for hundreds of millions of Nigerians.”

    In education, while observing that the sector needed several new solutions, including designing methods to teach millions even outside of classrooms, the President stated that “there are many young men and women already doing great things using technology to reach children in far flung areas with education.”

    He added that the use of technology and improvement in nationwide policing would further help the country address its security challenges.

    “The insecurity problems we are experiencing, the rise of terrorism in several parts of this large country and access to modern weaponry by non-state actors tell us that we must be smarter in policing the country, using smart drones and surveillance equipment. The politicisation of importation of arms tells us that we must manufacture our own arms.

    “Already Proforce, led by Ade Ogundeyin, is manufacturing APCs and MRAPS in their factory in Ode Remo and exporting. So are Imperium, and the government-owned Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria producing different types of munitions. The future is smart weapons benefiting from A.I. and machine learning,” he said.

    While praising the vision of the University’s founders, he referenced the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, after whom the university was renamed, saying “Chief Awolowo, for many years as Chancellor of the University, gave some of the most memorable and consequential lectures on the political economy of Nigeria; and addressed some of its most crucial problems, including the imperative of democracy, national economic development, ideology of governance and national census figures.”

    He also observed that OAU was very much ahead of its time when it named its medical faculty, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and its engineering faculty, the Faculty of Technology.

    Commending the achievements of several alumni of the university over the years, Buhari narrated how an alumnus of the faculty of health sciences, US-based Prof Oluyinka Olutoye, gained “global recognition when he led a team of surgeons to successfully take a 23-week-old baby out of her mother’s womb, removed a tumour and returned it to the mother’s womb where the injuries from her operation healed and she continued to grow until she was born, the second time at 36 weeks.”

    He also observed that the early leaders in tech and tech-enabled businesses were alumni of OAU’s Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering; CEO of Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya, and CEO of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola and one of the world’s most respected professors of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof. Akintayo Akinwande.

    He also noted OAU’s new generation alumni, including Nairaland’s Seun Osewa; Jobberman’s Olalekan Elude, Ayodeji Adewunmi and Opeyemi Awoyemi, among others. The President congratulated the graduands, who were doctoral candidates bagging their Doctors of Philosophy degrees. He also congratulated the two honorary doctorate recipients at the Convocation: the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and well-known business tycoon, Michael Ade-Ojo.

    While highlighting the strategic objectives of the National Development Plan 2021-2025, Buhari said the plan includes establishing a strong foundation for a diversified economy, investing in critical infrastructure, power and broadband, enabling human capital development and improving governance and strengthening security.

    He also noted that “one of the crafters of the Plan, the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Yemi Dipeolu, is also an alumnus of OAU, while his father, Sesan Dipeolu of blessed memory, was Ife’s first African librarian.”

    Osinbajo was accompanied by the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola. While the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, delivered the Convocation Lecture at the event presided over by the Etsu Nupe, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, as Chancellor of the University. Also present were eminent Nigerians, government dignitaries, top officials, traditional rulers, academics, staff and students.

    Copyright PUNCH.

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