The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Badaru Abubukar, has urged Nigerian youths to key into the digital technologies and focus more on critical thinking in order to find solutions for Nigeria’s economic and security challenges, according him that is the only way to move the country forward.
Governor Badaru made this call at the 1st Jigawa Innovation Summit with the theme: ‘Creating a Viable Innovative Ecosystem for Economic Development’ organised by the state government in collaboration with National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Youth Coalition for Development (YCD), an NGO that canvasses youth engagement in changing the status quo for the betterment of Nigerians.
The governor said it is only through critical thinking that the minds of Nigerian youths can be opened, so that they can look around their environment and see the opportunities around them that they can turn into business and create jobs, adding that the more problems are being solved, the more income can be generated.
He further said that the vision and focus is to bring world of innovations to the state, noting that oil economy is almost over because of what is happening around the globe – electric cars are on the rise, solar energy is becoming cheaper, wind energy becoming supportive, and the unknown fuel energy-drive currently ongoing can surely drop the demand of oil, and if this happens, national income will continue to decline and that will affect all the states of the federation, including Jigawa.
“We have to look at the areas where we have competitiveness and see how best we can make our economy work through those areas. Like I have always said, we can achieve this largely in Agriculture. We have vast land and water for irrigation in Jigawa. We will continue to focus on how to develop Agriculture and its value chain.
“I want to challenge this Summit to see how best we can to improve in what we are doing and how best we can to create jobs around the value chains in Nigeria digitally.
“We have Informatics Kazaure that produced so many IT professionals in the country. So I expect this Summit to bring to our table advises in our educational arena so that we can do more in developing our youth by making them employers, not just employee,” he added.
While delivering his speech, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), commended Jigawa State for its drive in Digital Economy, noting that the State Government showed its willingness to support the effort of the Federal Government and collaboration in order to develop indigenous digital economy in the country.
Dr Pantami said the rate of unemployment in the country motivated Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to think outside the box by focusing more on creating potential employers rather than potential employees.
He said, “If you enrolled people in university and they graduated without sufficient skills, they will never be self-reliant, they will always go around looking for jobs. But when you provide digital skills for your citizens, they will be employers of others, which Jigawa Innovation Summit should also focus on.
The minister cited Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, second richest person in the world, as the perfect example potential employer, who million of people are working under him.
He stated how Netherland used digital technology to boost its agricultural activities despite having lesser landmass compare to some states in Nigeria. He added that if Jigawa State deploy digital innovation to agriculture it will go along the way in creating many jobs and generating revenue for Federal and State Government.
On his part, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, while giving a Keynote Address, recalled that the journey to Innovation Summit is more exciting than the theme of the event, because the journey started in January last year when the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) commissioned Hadejia Community IT Centre.
He said, “While delivering his Keynote Address at the commissioning, the Honourable Minister explained potential benefit of Digital Economy in our country and Jigawa State in general. Our governor showed interest in Jigawa State’s readiness to embrace the initiative, and the Honourable Minister responded positively by directing me to engage all the stakeholders to ensure Jigawa benefit immensely from Digital Economy.”
“Whatever the state government, ministry and NITDA are doing are in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification agenda, therefore all the credits should go to Mr President, because he campaigned before election and after he was voted to lead the country, he appointed my boss and mentor as minister, who also recommended me for this position,” he added.
Mallam Abdullahi opined that with new measures being put in place in regard to innovation and also what Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar is doing in the state, Jigawa is in the forefront of zero-oil revenue.
He explained that innovation has been generally defined as the processing and taking idea from inception to impact, adding that innovation is not all about Information Technology, it is also something that has to do with invention, in terms commercialisation, business model, customer experience and organisational structure.
The DG said the event organised by Jigawa State Government in collaboration NITDA and YCD, attended by IT experts, entrepreneurs, academia, private sectors and other stakeholders is put heads together and look for competitive advantage in Jigawa; look at what each local government has, and come up with a strategy that can help unlock opportunities and create prosperity for the citizens.
“Jigawa State has a lot of potentials in terms of agricultural resources. Jigawa is the largest producer of dates, hibiscus and gum Arabic in Nigeria, and largest producer of sesames in the whole of Africa. The state also stands third in rice production, and we are utilising less than 10% of our arable land. Recently, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Jigawa, Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar negotiated with stakeholders from Mexico to boost hibiscus production, which is a big plus for us as a nation.”
“All these can be achieved through digital technologies; this is why we are building IT centres across the country. So far, we have established 18 IT community centres out of 27 local governments, and we will build in the remaining ones. This is to prepare our future generation and create job opportunities, not only government jobs, but for youths to become self-reliant.
“We are coming with strategy where the state government can provide enabling environment that will unlock opportunities. In some countries, government job is the last resort, because you will make more money in business than in government; you will have more time in your private business than government,” he concluded.