Senator Abiru’s Testament to Positive, Developmental Representation

Senator Abiru’s Testament to Positive, Developmental Representation

With more than three years in the National Assembly as the senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru has recorded impactful achievements, especially with the SAIL Innovation Lab that is impacting youths with digital skills, writes Dike Onwuamaeze

The guiding principle of the senator representing Lagos East senatorial district, Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, is doing well. Abiru manifests this principle through steadfast dedication to serving others and making a meaningful impact on their lives. This was evident in his career as a banker, where he rose to the peak of the industry as chief executive officer of Polaris Bank. This trait is currently manifesting in his legislative activities in the National Assembly, which revolve around the three pillars of legislation: empowerment and endowment.

Aburi said: “This guiding principle that has been the cornerstone of my endeavours is particularly evident in the establishment of the SAIL Innovation Lab.

“This innovation hub is a testament to our commitment to empowering the youths within the Lagos East Senatorial District with knowledge in technology, data science and STEM education for secondary schools.

“It is through these initiatives that we seek to unlock the potential of our younger generation, equipping them with skills and tools to compete in our already changed world of technology and innovation.”

He co-founded the SAIL Innovation Lab with his wife, Mrs. Feyisola Abiru, which has a partnership with Co-Creation Hub (CCHUB), a foremost technology and innovation company in Africa.

The digital inspirational centre has a 24-hour electricity supply, constant internet access, and choice faculty who serve as facilitators and managers of the facility.

Since its establishment in 2021 in Ikorodu, Lagos State, the SAIL Innovation Lab has impacted about 1,667 youths who passed through its in-class training with digital skills that cut across data science, artificial intelligence, etc., and has helped some of them gain useful employment.

Some digital skills, delivered free at the SAIL Innovation Lab, cost as much as N4.5 million per person.

The idea behind the innovation lab is to set up a facility that would help young folks upgrade their skills to be employable and entrepreneurial in today’s marketplace, which is marked by digital evolution. 

“That is actually the thrust behind this facility that we are in. What the youths are asking for is a platform to realise their dreams. Not donations of computer units but inspirational centres they will wake up in the morning and rush to,” Abiru said.  

The SAIL Innovation Lab is providing six training programmes in innovation and digital skills that have so far impacted 4,667 participants, including 1,667 in-class participants and 3,000 online participants.

One of its programmes is Tech Talent Development, where tech novices are trained for six months to become entry-level software developers. Another programme is Data Science for Society, where participants are trained in data analytics, specifically for solving real societal problems through their capstone project. The Startup Accelerator programme is where “we support and incubate youths that have ideas to find product-market fit and position them for growth through training, mentoring and access to raise the required funding for their various startups.”

Another programme offered at the SAIL Innovation Lab is Game Development, where participants are trained to create/develop online games using 3D modelling, animation, video editing, and production skills, among other things.

The SAIL Innovation Lab also offers digital programmes for secondary school students and their teachers. One of them, STEM for Senior Secondary Students, is a weekend class program focused on teenagers from 13 to 18 who are attending public schools or are out of school but awaiting university admission. The teenagers are trained in physical computing and the use of Ardunio in prototyping.

Lastly, the Lagos East Teachers Fellowship is providing four-month digital training on inquiry-based learning and the use of modern technology to impact knowledge on its participants.

He stated, “I am happy to report that since we started this facility in 2021, we have touched the lives of 1,667 people in class. It is a small facility, given the size of the society, but it is a way of leading and showing people that this is actually what we need to do for our society.

He added, “It gives me joy because we believe that we are imparting on lives. Today, the pay might not be fantastic but it is a good starting point. Their average pay is about N200,000 per month.

“If you ask me what is my greatest joy I will point to this facility as my greatest joy. I am particularly concerned in truly making people useful. I always like to equip people so that they can move on and be better.”

He has a plan to replicate the SAIL Innovation Lab in other parts of Lagos East senatorial district.

Among those who have benefited from the programmes run by the SAIL Innovation Lab is a Software Engineer, Mr. John Saviour, who currently works with Co-Creation Hub, Yaba, Lagos State. 

Saviour said, “Where I am today as a software engineer was made possible by the platform SAIL provided for our training and development. So, I am a software engineer because of what the senator has done. I am an alumnus of the Tech Talent Programme of the SAIL Innovation Lab. I am in the first set of the program. The senator speaks to motivate and assure us that everything we need for learning and growth has been provided.

“Those outside should know that there is a facility here that has been made available by the senator that they can utilise to further their progress.”

Another beneficiary, Mr. Daniel Iremiren, an indigene of Ikorodu, said: “I am an alumnus of SAIL Tech Digital Science Programme. The programme empowered me to tackle problems in my critical thinking and problem-solving aspects.

“I am a Chemical Engineering graduate. But after my NYSC, I was staying at home because I did not know where next to head to until I participated in the SAIL’s tech data program for six months. I rose from the beginner’s level to the intermediate level. This programme helped me find a job placement in a big digital organisation, Awari, an AI company.”

Miss Ojila Tracy Oyikowo, a secondary school graduate of Ace College International, told THISDAY that she is waiting for the next intake to participate in digital training. 

She said, “I am an aspiring data scientist. I have applied to the SAIL Innovation Lab. However, I am presently using its web space to broaden my knowledge through YouTube rather than staying idle at home. It will be my greatest opportunity if I am selected.”

Besides the SAIL Innovation Lab, the senator also has constituency projects that are targeted at education, health, power projects, and the development of retail markets, amongst other things.

So far, he has done 20 intervention projects in the educational sector and still counting. These include four blocks of 24 classrooms that are equipped with the compliments of furniture, 16 toilets and a solar-powered borehole at Aga Primary School, Ikorodu; facilitation of two blocks of six classrooms at RCM Primary School, Iwerekun, Ibeju-Lekki; one block of three classrooms at Ajelogo Primary School, Agboyi-Ketu and facilitation of one block of two classrooms with office and store furnishing and solar power installation at UPE Primary School, Ajegende, Eredo and another one block of two classrooms at Methodist Primary School, Oke-Eletu, Ijede LCDA, etc.

In the health sector, Abiru constructed two sets of 40-bed health facilities and a dental centre at the Ikorodu Campus of the Lagos State University of Science and Technology and Mascara Health Centre in Agboyi-Ketu LCDA, and a 40-bed hospital at Isiu, Ikorodu North LCDA.

He also supplied ambulances to general hospitals in his constituency, rehabilitated Igbo-Olomu and Ori-Kuta Primary Health Care centres, supplied drugs and medical equipment, and constructed doctors’ quarters at Owede Labora, Ibeju Lekki.

He also provided transformers to 23 communities, reconstructed the popular Oluwo Fish Market in Epe and increased the number of shops in the market from 259 to 322 with 12 toilets.

Abiru has a N300 million constituency revolving loan scheme at a 6.0 per cent interest rate for his constituents, which he plans to increase to N500 million.

He said: “Beyond the realms of education, this principle (doing good) has also inspired my vision for supporting small businesses, with over 1,000 small businesses across Lagos East having access to funds at a concessionary interest rate of 6.0 per cent per annum through our constituency revolving loan.

“We have ignited the dreams of countless entrepreneurs, providing them the means to flourish and contribute to our nation’s socio-economic development.”

Moreover, Abiru has recorded bold and visible legislative achievements so far. These include the Copyright Act Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021, which was signed into law in March 2023 by former President Muhammadu Buhari; the Central Bank of Nigeria Act Amendment Bill 2024; the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation Amendment Bill; the Nigerian Insurance Reform Bill 2024; and the National Insurance Commission Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2024.

He explained that the CBN Act 2007 needed to be amended to enable the bank to keep pace with the dynamic changes in the monetary and financial sector. The amendment would also enable it to adequately address the challenges in policy implementation influenced by fiscal dominance and a rapidly evolving landscape.

Therefore, the aim of the “proposed amendments to the CBN Act is to bolster the bank’s capacity for maintaining monetary and price stability, thereby supporting the federal government’s economic growth objectives.

“Key among the changes is the alignment of the bank’s governance mechanisms with global best practice, ensuring its operations reflect the current state of global financial regulation,” Abiru explained.

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