Sanwo-Olu, Obaseki, El-Rufai, Fayemi during the summit
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Godwin Obaseki, Yemi Osinbajo, Nasir El-Rufai, Kayode Fayemi during the summit

Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, has advised states to embrace a knowledge economy, as according to him, technology has no border.

The vice president gave the advice in his keynote address during the maiden edition of the Ekiti State Fountain Summit in Ado-Ekiti, on Thursday.

Osinbajo explained that the future of every state, especially with the growing population of young men and women, is technology.

“Ekiti is in the flow of the progress regarding the plan to build technology special economic hub in the state. Clearly, the future of a fast-growing economy is the knowledge economy,” he said.

“The natural resources are forced to give way to knowledge economy. Unlike land, science has no border, visa and immigration restrictions. Technology has erased visa, immigration, border and even physical offices. From the age of territory, we are entering the age of science. This is the future of jobs.

“However, for the digital hub to be successful, it must be attractive to digital companies. I understand that the state is already attracting investments via paying of telco cables due to the slash of the fees paid to the state to pay cables. So, we need to train talents in the state to be engaged by incoming investments.”

In his own remark, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki who spoke on the role of ICT in driving the economy at the subnational level, advised that states should use ICT to recast primary education by making the children at that age perceive technology as part of their lives.

Also speaking, Nasir El-Rufai, Executive Governor, Kaduna State, who was among the key panelists, agreed with the Vice President that knowledge economy and investment in human capital are key to any state’s economic growth.

“There is need for investment in technology and human capacity in terms of brushing up the skills in operating computers among other technology skills,” he said.

El-Rufai described security as a big problem that every Nigerian should be concerned about. Laying the foundation for why the policing system should be decentralised, the Kaduna State Governor said, “We have 150,000 personnel in the Nigerian army; Police was 400,000 by the time this government came on board but has gone down to 300,000 now. We need multi-level police. Policing is local just like a unitary environment like Britain.

“Kaduna State is about 46,000sqkms in size. Boko Haram has been chased from the North-East by ISWAP and now occupying the North-West. But if they are dislodged here, where would they go? This is why we should all be concerned.”

Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in own remarks, advocated for the creation of state police to protect investments at sub-national level, Nairametrics reported.

“When you have investments, you would have to protect them and also take responsibility for whatever happens. The investors will rely on the governors for protection and it is sad that we are not in charge. This is the area where the federal government must look into the issue of state police,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu suggested that the state should digitalise its revenue collection process and give staff in the state Internal Revenue Service incentives to do their jobs.

“You must have robust technology and ensure people don’t collect money with hands. Make sure your money is centrally collected. Also, block all loopholes, encourage your staff by giving them a small bonus, so that they can deliver more. Ekiti has the potential to think like a country,” he said.

Backing the call for state police, Edo State Governor, Obaseki, said police should be removed from the exclusive list for state chief executives to be in firm control.

He said, “If you have a business, you have to protect them and you must have the apparatuses. Security is on the exclusive list and we are looking up to the Federal government to remove it for states to take charge. We must provide facilities for the police to be able to train our local vigilante, because in Edo State that was what we did. We raised a vigilante group to police our villages from kidnappers and other criminals.”

Responding, the host governor, Governor Kayode Fayemi, said his administration in the last three years has provided the enabling environment for investors to come to the state, adding that this resulted in over $300 million of investment in the state.

According to him, the summit would help in no small measure to improve the economic fortune of the state and that the reports and recommendations would be taken to the State Executive Council meeting towards implementation.

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