By Fortune Abang
Nigeria and Israel have expressed determination to prioritise investment on youth innovative and research programmes, to tackle poverty.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this known in his inaugural address at the Innovative Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers (i-FAIR-2) ceremony on Tuesday in Abuja.
Osinbajo was represented at the event by Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu
I-FAIR-2 was organised by the embassy, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President and Skill G Ltd., Gregory University and DeNovo, private sector-based organisations.
Osinbajo said, “Nigeria was not just great in the past; Nigeria will be one of the greatest nations on earth.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is working very hard and we will give him all necessary support to lay the solid foundation for this to be achieved.
There is no reason for our nation Nigeria or even, Africa to be poor, because we have everything that every other continent is looking for, but these things were just placed there for us by God.
“Other nations and other continents come into Africa take these resources to develop their country; the question is why can we not do it?
“We have young men and women that can compete; whenever young people who have dreams and determined come together, and are prepared to work to change the world, we must support you.
“So, we want to assure you that the government under President Buhari will give you the support.”
He commended the i-FAIR initiative to have enabled young people realise their dreams, transform their ideas into inventions and also convert them into useful products.
He noted that the Nigeria would no longer continue to import things that Nigerians need into the country, saying by so doing jobs were exported into other nation.
Speaking, Mr Yotam Kreiman, Charge d’Affaires and Acting Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, said that the programme was put together amidst challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, to look back and see how far we have come in the building of this initiative into platform that elevate innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria is remarkable.
“Every person here has been invited to this event, because of the part you play in advancing the cause of innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
“Israel invites any and all parties represented here to collaborate and build more success stories like the i-FAIR initiative.
“To the mentors and participants of i-FAIR, I congratulate you on the fascinating journey ahead of you for the next 6 months and I look forward to presenting your results proudly,” Yotam said.
Also speaking, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, said that there is every need for the government to encourage Nigerian youths to become Innovators and Inventors.
Gbajabiamila was represented by Mr Olajide Olatubosun, member representing Atisbo/Saki-West/Saki-East Federal Constituency, Oyo State and Chairman of Nigeria-Israel Friendship Group.
“50 per cent of GNP globally is from innovation and if Nigeria is not to be lagging behind, we have to do everything possible to encourage young Nigerians.
“Nigerians between ages 18 to 35 years constitutes 65 per cent of our population and that is massive, whether in entertainment, science or sports, Nigerian youths can compete with the best in the world.
“I will be at the forefront of everything that will promote innovation in Nigeria, to drive legislation to encourage Nigerians to excel in such endeavours,” Gbajabiamila said.
Speaking, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), expressed appreciation to Osinbajo for supporting the cause of youth innovation.
“As number two person in this country he supports youth innovation; in the 21st century knowledge defines the economy, we cannot be different, amidst knowledge, it is innovative research that makes the difference.
“What I call problem solving research; to have this collection of great Nigerian citizens and leaders across the world associated with innovation shows they are ready to support us.
“We Nigerians must embrace the cause and get the best out of it,” Bogoro said.
Meanwhile, Prof. Gregory Ibe, Managing Director/CEO, Skill “G” Nigeria Ltd, has expressed appreciation to Israel for the support towards the full realisation of the i-FAIR project.
Ibe, who is also Founder/Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, in Abia State was represented by former Vice President of ECOWAS, Mr Edward Singhatey.
“In congratulating you on being part of i-FAIR-2 I encourage you to make the best use of these facilities to poor out your ideas, put them on paper.
“Make sure that you work with the experts here at Skill “G” and the mentors’ provided for you.
“To turn your ideas into prototypes, because I know one day, one of your products will change this world,” Ibe said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that i-FAIR is a platform and acronym for Innovation start-up programme for aspiring Nigerian Inventors and Researchers. (NAN)