Funmi Ogundare

A Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering and former Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Michael Faborode has stressed the need for partnership between the academia, industry and government to revive industrial production for the country.

Faborode, who made this known recently while delivering the 2018 academy technology dinner lecture of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE) in Lagos, said partnerships between research institutes including universities and industries are crucial to encouraging increased research and promoting innovations. He said government’s response through the economic recovery and growth framework has not been well-conceived to douse and subsume the public outcry.

“It is now widely accepted that research and innovation are key drivers of competitiveness and economic growth. The leap from the industrial revolution to the digital revolution has largely been anchored on innovation. Several times in recent decades, modern technology movements have unleashed immense creativity and entrepreneurship that resulted in economic transformations for select regions.

“Recent efforts in China to reform national innovation systems serve to demonstrate the importance of motivating universities and research institutes, building up the innovative capacities of enterprises, and promoting industrial linkages.”

In his paper ‘Cracking the Code of Industry-Academia Partnership in Nigeria: Challenge to Knowledge Academies’, the former Secretary General, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigeria (CVCN), described closeness to a university as an asset in terms of its innovation ecosystem, adding that this is what makes them different from businesses and governments.

“Universities are built for collaboration, for learning and discovery, and for unlocking the imagination. They are powerful incubators for start-ups and technology transfer. When encouraged, their spill overs literally make their ways into innovation ecosystems.”

He said Nigerian and African science and innovation must boldly emulate the developments in the Nollywood that encapsulates Nigerian music and fashion industries. “These, with hindsight, would appear to have unconsciously and surreptitiously laid the foundation for the emergence of today’s trail-blazing Nollywood, the full technological import of which deserves further exploration in the locus of rapidly evolving local and global transformations.”

He expressed concern over the growing unemployment rate among youths and graduates, which he said poses a threat to the security, stability and the economic progress of the country.

“Nigeria must vigorously harness the inherent demographic dividend of the youth bulge to mitigate the dangerously growing youth unemployment and hopelessness, to avert presently unfolding and looming danger to the polity. The way out is to develop, deploy and harness the technological potential of the youth.”

Meanwhile, the academy held the investiture of its 10th President, Professor Fola Lasisi; inducted new fellows and presented life achievement awards to members that have distinguished themselves in business, academia and government; and are accomplished in the field of engineering and engineering related disciplines.

Some of the fellows include; the President of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Kashima Abdul Ali; former Minister of Power and Vice-Chancellor of UNN, Professor Chinedu Nebo; Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbata; Group Chief Executive Officer, Tricontinental Oil Services Limited, Professor Oluwatoyin Ashiru, a Professor in the department of Food Science and Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Kehinde Taiwo, among others.

The life achievement awardees were Professor Fola Lasisi; a past President of the academy, Professor Francis Ogunye; Professor Folurunsho Akinbode; and the Managing Director of Botad General Limited, Dr. Adewunmi Desalu.

Responding on behalf of the fellows, Ashiru described the honour as a celebration of a milestone, which would afford them the opportunity to do advocacy, mentorship and also advice government appropriately on the need to adopt technology to help keep the economy afloat.

He promised the fellows’ readiness to encourage engineers to establish noble business ventures, saying, “we will work with our senior fellows to give advice to the government and also engage young Nigerians to help keep the economy afloat.”

In his remarks, Lasisi appealed to all fellows to commit themselves to increased involvement in its programmes and support its collective desire to leave lasting legacies behind for the academy.