After the recent inauguration of an Endowment Fund’s Board of Trustees for the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, declared that the task for NIPSS “is to determine how it will affect human history beginning with our nation.”
At a meeting held at the presidential villa in Abuja, the need to reposition NIPSS, recalibrate its visibility and attract significant financial backing from the private sector and other non-public sector sources, were emphasised.
According to a statement by Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, the consensus was that the time had come for the National Institute to take its place as a foremost institute along the lines of notable globally ranked think-tanks.
According to the vice president, “One of the reasons why a think-tank is effective is because it is a place where people think and develop ideas because ideas make the difference. This is why countries that have made progress continue to seek ways not just in developing their own think-tanks, but in looking for other think-tanks they can collaborate with because there is so much happening around the world and a lot of collaboration is necessary.
“Some of the roadmaps for the growth of technology, for artificial intelligence, the roadmaps for where we are going to find ourselves for machine learning, and where we are heading to with respect to the finances of the world – the cryptocurrency, and others, even thinking through the development of military strength, are the products of think-tanks.”
OsinbajoContinuing, the VP noted that “one of the critical things for us in NIPSS is to first of all realise that the most important part of our work in the coming years would be really thinking and developing ideas, not training.
“The work of a think-tank is thinking and development of ideas. But NIPSS can offer training to people and at the end of the programme, they get titles and all that but that is not how think-tanks make their names. Think-tanks make a name by the ideas they develop. All the think-tanks in the world, produce some of the greatest ideas.”
Prof. Osinbajo identified other areas that should concern NIPSS including developing ideas on how to get extreme poverty out of the country, address climate change issues, among others.
According to him, “Our country is a nation of 200 million people, growing at 6 million a year and poverty is almost at 60 per cent, even more, extreme poverty. In another few years we are going to become the third most populous country in the world. We have to devise a strategy to get out of that poverty.
“It is our foremost think-tank that ought to be in the forefront of thinking how we are going to deal with the situation, politicians will come and go. Our think-tanks must be able to provide a tactical roadmap to move from where we are to get to where we ought to be.
“And that is the same for every other thing. Everyone is talking about climate change and what is going to happen to the world. People are thinking about these things time and time again, but we need to have our own think-tank come up with policies and ideas about what we need to do.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, restated the trustees’ commitment to serve and assured the VP of their preparedness to deliver on the mandate.
According to him, the trustees were set to “make the institute the best it can be,” explaining that the interaction with the VP was to hear from him on what should be done.
He added that the trustees will also interact with the Alumni of NIPSS, saying that, “we take this assignment very seriously.”
On his part, the DG of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, reiterated the importance of finding alternative sources of funding research, infrastructure upgrade and other activities at the institution.
He assured the VP and the BoT members of management’s commitment to leave a legacy of commitment to serve and accountability in the management of the funds raised.
Trustees also contributed during the interaction, including the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III; Gbong Gwom Jos, Chief Jacob Buba Gyang; Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande; Chairman of Overt Energy, Chief Marc Wabara, a legal luminary, Yusuf Alli, SAN; and Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi, who joined virtually.
In the vote of thanks at the end of the interaction, Prof. Akande told the VP that “our understanding of the assignment has been better enriched” and expressed optimism the trustees will deliver in the task.”