ACTUALIZING TECHNOLGICAL ADVANCEMENT IN NIGERIA THROUGH ADVOCACY: THE TASK AHEAD A KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HER EXCELLENCY, THE WIFE OF THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE, ARABINRIN BETTY ANYANWU-AKEREDOLU, AT THE OCCASION OF N.A.P.S ADVOCACY FOR NIGERIA TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT PROGRAMME BEING HELD AT RUFUS GIWA POLYTECHNIC, OWO, ONDO STATE.
Protocols… I feel very delighted and honoured to be in your midst today to speak on the task ahead of actualizing technological advancement in our dear country, Nigeria, using advocacy as a veritable tool. I also seize this opportunity to compliment the National Association of Polytechnic Students for championing the campaign for equity, quality leadership, free and qualitative education at all levels through orientations, advocacy, capacity building, constructive agitations, justice and good governance.
It is commendable that, by organizing this epoch-making event, NAPS has indeed proven to be students who are in tune with the technological realities of the 21st century. I also extend my commendation to every student, participant and stakeholder here. Greatest Nigerian students! It has become imperative at this point in time that we continue to reflect on the prospects of a technologically-advanced society, in relation to the situation in Nigeria, and also strategize on how to advance technological development in the country.
I’m quite sure you know that, as one of the key highlights of the 21st century, technology has helped in shaping the way things are done. I will give a few useful instances. Walking is the earliest form of movement ever employed by humans and we still use it till date. However, with automobiles, transportation technology has obviously evolved to the point that humans can now travel to outer space. Similarly with the advent of microphones, loudspeakers, radio, television, computers, smart phones, the internet and social media, information and communication technology has changed drastically.
Likewise in agriculture, technology has eased the business of farming by use of bulldozers, tractors, harvesters, planters, fertilizer sprinklers, food processing plants, and other mechanized processes in plant and livestock farming.
The technological reality in our dear country, although not totally abysmal, has continuously been riddled with challenges and developmental gaps. After 58 years of independence, it is rather disheartening that Nigeria still largely depends on foreign nations for her various technological and industrial needs. Also, lack of sustainable technology transfer and subsequent mismanagement have led to the comatose or ineffectual operation of some of our industries, and oftentimes indigenous technologies are being relegated to the background.
In addition, low internet and broadband bandwidths, technological illiteracy as a result of poor ICT education, and the gender gap in equal opportunities in the technology-driven sectors of the economy, have contributed in no small measure to our technological under-development in comparison to our counterparts in Europe, Asia and America. Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the world has gradually shifted to a technology-driven age and we cannot afford to be left behind. It therefore behoves on us as a country and as a people to seek to come to par with modern-day advancements in technology and technology-related ventures.
One way to actualize this is through advocacy. Advocacy, in this sense, implies those activities by technologically-driven individuals like you and me, and groups that aim to influence decisions affecting technological advancement within our sociopolitical and economic systems and institutions. Some practical suggestions through which advocacy can be used to actualize advancement in technology in Nigeria include, but not limited to the following:
• We need to start paying emphasis on how people can use their knowledge to create and innovate computer-based systems that address the needs of individuals and the society. This we can do by prioritizing practical technological skills over paper qualifications and social ties.
• Start-ups in the tech industry need to be supported to thrive. This we can do by providing low-interest loans, grants, and adequate mentoring through training and retraining programs.
• In line with the Buy Naija to Grow the Naira initiative, it should serve as point of duty for us to patronize standardized locally produced goods and practitioners.
• We need to encourage early education of our children in science and technology, as a prerequisite for technological literacy.
• The potency of pressure groups to engender societal change cannot be underplayed. Through social media activism, rallies, conferences and other responsible channels, professional bodies, student union groups like NAPS and other pressure groups can play a leading role in advocating for technological advancement.
Here in Ondo state, the technologically-driven efforts of the Akeredolu-led administration indicate this government’s sincerity of purpose and firm resolve to promoting good governance through technological transformation. With the establishment of the Akure Tech Hub -an attempt to support tech-based activities and start-ups- and the Ondo State Integrated Financial Management and Information System (SIFMIS) -which is aimed at promoting transparency, accountability and efficiency in public service- amongst others, the State is now poised to be a leading stakeholder on how Nigeria’s technological advancement can be made possible.
In the same vein, as a woman who is passionate about the total development of the girl child, I kick-started a summer training program for girls in 2017 to promote gender equality and girl-child empowerment through technological and life-changing skills. It may interest you to know that the annual BEMORE Summer Bootcamp for Girls Naija has trained over 700 young girls in Solar technology, computing, coding, leadership and homemaking skills. Already, some of the beneficiaries are doing exploits in the society through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Indeed, the future is bright for our country. On our quest for greatness, we should bear in mind that strong economies are driven by technologies and a system that encourages equal rights and opportunities for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. Nigerian students, youths and every one of us therefore need to rise to the challenge of achieving this all-inclusive task of actualizing technological advancement in our dear country. Greatest Nigerian students! Thanks for listening.
H.E Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Wife of Ondo State Governor & Founder Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation (BAAF)