I wish to sincerely thank the University Council, the Senate, the Vice-Chancellor, and students at the Federal University of Technology for awarding me an honorary doctorate degree today. What an incredible honor from this great university, located in the city of Minna.
Minna is a town that produces great and eminent leaders. Minna has produced two Presidents and heads of state of Nigeria: General Ibrahim Babangida (GCFR) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (GCFR).
I congratulate my fellow awardees on their honorary doctorate degrees, His Excellency, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (GCFR), as well as Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu, (CON) and Malam Mele Kolo Kyari. It is a great privilege to share this stage with you.
I am especially grateful to H.E. General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who took me under his wings and lobbied extremely hard for me when I was seeking election for President of the African Development Bank in 2015. He spoke with the then President-elect Muhammadu Buhari who in turn provided me with strong support. He also reached out to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to rally support behind me. You have been a key part of my success. I wish to use this time to acknowledge that publicly and thank you most sincerely. Your Excellency, I am grateful Sir.
Today, I see before me the new success stories of Nigeria, the graduating class of 2021. Today is your day. You will be the next success stories of Nigeria. Congratulations!
As graduating students at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, you are standing on the brink of opportunities. You have been prepared for success by a university focused on technology.
Technology drives the world.
I know the power of technology.
As Minister of agriculture, I turned to the power of technology, mobile phones, to provide 15 million farmers with access to improved seeds and fertilizers, end corruption in the sector. It was revolutionary –the first, not only in Africa, but in the world. It helped Nigeria to produce a record additional 21 million metric tons of food. It boosted food security and expanded wealth for farmers, from the north east, north west, north central, southwest, east, and south-south of the country. It brought transparency and accountability in use of public funds.
It changed the lives of farmers, including Hajia Ladi Balady, a female farmer in Zamfara’s Bakalori irrigation project, who was growing just 2 ha of rice. With the technology support she received on her mobile phones, Hadia Ladi Balady boosted her production, went to Mecca, and supported 23 orphans. My wife, Grace is here today, and even she calls Hadiya Ladi Baladi the “Minister’s second wife”!
Today, Nigeria’s Fintech entrepreneurs are using tech to deliver digital payment systems with three of Nigeria’s fintech (Interswitch, Pay Pal, and Flutterwave) reaching the $1 billion mark. Fintechs in Africa raised $1.4 billion in 2019, three times what was raised in 2019, and in 2021 they raised about $5 billion.
Tech now allows e-health delivery services. At the touch of the button, doctors, pharmacists, and technicians, all connected, deliver real time medical care.
Tech now allows for enhanced security systems, from military reconnaissance and intelligence. Satellite imagery and remote sensing allow us to track effects of climate change. Artificial intelligence systems power driver-less tractors and harvesters for farmers.
Drones now deliver blood for transfusion in remote locations, saving time and lives. Cognitive robots now power industrial manufacturing. In the very near future, due to machine learning and artificial intelligence, your colleagues in the office or industry will not be just Musa, Emeka, Yetunde or Ada, but Yekini Jones or Bobo — the robots. They will even wear caps or head ties. Through facial recognition, Yekini and Bobo the robots will greet you every morning, saying “Hello Musa, Emeka, Yetunde, and Ada. And you will say, “Hello Yekini, Hello Bobo. Let’s roll”!
Welcome to the world of information … processed at the speed of light.!
Welcome to the power of big data analytics that will transform learning in schools, enhance decision making in academia, research, in the public and private sector, banking and in every sphere of life. industries.
Welcome to the power of technology for public transparency and for holding governments accountable.
The African Development Bank is preparing the youth of Africa to lead in the new digital economy. We have just provided $ 170 million to Nigeria to help drive its I-DICE initiative that will help expand the digital industry and grow jobs in the creative industries.
As the Class of 2022, you will help shape the tech future of Nigeria.
You have been shaped in Minna, for export to other parts of Nigeria, Africa, and the world.
Build a New Nigeria. A smart Nigeria. A dynamic Nigeria. A globally competitive Nigeria.
It is in your hands. Now go and make it happen!
I wish you good success and God’s richest blessings.
* Being text of abridged acceptance speech by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina President, African Development Bank Group Award of Honorary Doctorate today, February 2, 2022, at the Federal University of Technology Minna.