Speech of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, GCON, at the Convocation Lecture of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, 9th of
It is a great honour, and a matter of great personal privilege to have been invited to be part of this Convocation of a
University that is fast taking its place as a model of scholarship and the processes of moulding our nation’s future generations. I
am particularly grateful to the Founder of Al-Hikmah University and his many influential friends and admirers who kept the pressure on my attendance to this 18th Convocation Ceremony. I request for your understanding over my inability to attend all the events in this Convocation Ceremony owing to the heavy
demands over my time. Needless to say, I am also profoundly moved by the decision to name the newly-constructed AlHikmah University Faculty of Nursing Complex after my humble self which I commissioned a few minutes ago. I assure you that I
will cherish this honour among the most humbling acts of generousity
I want to thank this great University for trusting me with the honour of presenting this year’s Convocation Lecture. I
intend to leave the main text of this Lecture for a more detailed perusal by the audience. As you will find in the main text, the
Convocation Lecture is a sweeping review of our history with innovations and challenges, as well as triumphs and failures in our
efforts as a nation to grow through our agricultural assets as a nation. The lecture captures the essential linkages between food
security and technology, as well as the place of universities in extracting the maximum benefits from the right synergy
consistent with our own peculiarities. As you will appreciate, an issue of this nature is best digested by out top brains under an
appropriate atmosphere. I am therefore leaving the main lecture itself to be distributed, while I share with you some of the key issues which a challenge of such strategic economic and political
significance to our future as a nation represents.
The first issue the Lecture addresses is the value of realistic stocktaking of our assets and liabilities. 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 the nation to do justice to all that God Has
bestowed us with. Nigeria today reminds us thatw its 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 uch us ours, it breeds unacceptable levels of poverty and avoidable conflicts as we see today. The call to transform potential into actual asset is the motivation of His Excellence, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to offer to lead the nation in this most trying of moments, and I can testify to his faith that this is a task that can be accomplished.
The second issue is the requirement of identifying the right means to the correct end. We have to identify sectors of our
agricultural assets that are most likely to benefit from the application of technology. This is where the ability to think boldly
about revolutionizing production and processing as well as guaranteeing sustained food security comes in. We have enough of everything we need to feed our huge population, grow a vibrant agricultural industry and supply domestic and global
markets with agricultural produce from which technology would have extracted the greatest value. In 25 years, we will have a
population of about 450million people. Only about 100 million of that population will be actively involved in economic activities,
because the rest will be either too old or too young to be productively engaged. These 100 million will have to be well 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.
The third issue involves the place of education and training our populations to take full advantage of the growing influence
of technology in all facets of human existence. We have a intelligent people willing to be availed opportunities to learn. Our young are curious and ambitious. Our systems are open to innovation. Our values basically emphasize hard work and just
reward. We must envision a future where our 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 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 even the sky is not our limit.
8. Thank you for letting me share my vision with you.