Vice President Kashim Shettima has identified agricultural revolution as the only bold step Nigeria can take to put an end to insecurity and reduce poverty among its growing population.
This, he said, can be achieved through the deployment of technology to actualise food security among the country’s growing population, noting that it is where the university comes to extract the maximum benefits from the right synergy that is consistent with its own peculiarities.
VP Shettima, who stated this on Saturday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during the 13th Convocation Lecture of Al-Hikmah University, underscored the role of education and training of the country’s population to take full advantage of what he described as the growing influence of technology in all aspects of human existence.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Stanley Nwocha, delivering the Convocation Lecture, the VP noted that it was only when Nigeria as a nation begins to think boldly about revolutionising production, processing and guaranteeing sustained food security that it can identify sectors of the nation’s agricultural assets that are most likely to benefit from the application of technology.
Sen. Shettima said Nigeria’s future can be secured by agricultural revolution through imaginative and bold leadership, a secure and peaceful environment, and a sound education system that does not reduce the limit of the citizens to only the sky.
“The final issue involves the choices Nigerians have to make regarding our future. We can overcome insecurity if we can grow our economy to radically reduce our poverty levels. Only an agricultural revolution can guarantee this.
“We can reduce our dependence on the rest of the world when we can employ all who seek employment. We can improve our levels of political cohesion when we reduce stresses around diminishing resources and rely more on what we all have in abundance.
“Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a very healthy vision of our future as a nation, even when I am advised that we have huge challenges. I see a country that can survive its current limitations. History is replete with countries that almost gave up, but are among the strongest today. I believe our future lies in an imaginative and bold leadership, a secure and peaceful environment, and an education system that teaches us that only the sky is not our limit,” Senator Shettima said.
Noting that Nigeria has no justification not to be among the ten richest countries in the world, VP Shettima emphasized the value of realistic stocktaking of the nation’s assets and liabilities.
Shettima noted: “Going by the amount of arable land, water resources and size of our humanity, Nigeria has no reason not to be among the ten richest countries today. That we are near the bottom is precisely why we sought to offer our services to do justice to all that God Has bestowed us with. Nigeria today reminds us that it is not enough to have potential. Indeed, the potential to grow and the failure to utilize that potential is a virtual death sentence for any living thing.
“For nations, it breeds frustration and decay. For countries such as ours, it breeds unacceptable levels of poverty and avoidable conflicts as we see today. The call to transform potential into actual assets is the motivation of His Excellency, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to offer to lead the nation in this most trying moment, and I can testify to his faith that this is a task that can be accomplished.”
He maintained that Nigeria has enough of everything it needs to feed its huge population, grow a vibrant agricultural industry and supply huge markets with agricultural produce from which technology would have extracted the greatest value.
“In 25 years, we will have a population of about 450 million people. Only about 100 million of that population will be actively involved in economic activities because the rest are either too old or too young. This 100 million will have to be prepared to be optimally productive, and only a visionary and sustained marriage between technology and raw assets can ensure that. We believe this can and must be done.,” VP Shettima pointed out.
He further stressed that away from its values that emphasise hard work and reward, the nation must begin to focus on a future where its universities “lead the world in research and innovation, from where they will graduate students who will move directly into the agricultural industry as competent entrepreneurs.”
The Vice President who had earlier commissioned the newly-constructed Faculty of Nursing Complex of Al-Hikmah University named after him, thanked the management of the school, saying he was profoundly moved by the gesture and would cherish this honour as the most humbling act of generosity.
In addition to inaugurating the Senator Kashim Shettima Nursing Science Complex, the Vice President also officially opened the University’s Faculty of Law Moot Court Complex at the Atere Campus of the University.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Noah Yusuf, noted that food insecurity has become a big problem in Nigeria as most citizens are struggling with how to find food for their daily living.
He thanked the Kwara State governor for constructing the road leading to the university as well as granting permission to name the road after the university- Al-Hikmah University Road.
Dignitaries at the convocation ceremony included the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the Deputy Governor of Kwara State, Kayode Alabi, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters (Office of the Vice President), Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Al-Hikmah University, Alhaja Sekinat Yusuf, the Registrar of the University, the Founder of the University, Alhaji (Dr.) AbdulRaheem Oladimeji, Senators representing Kwara State at the National Assembly, among others.