Sunday, May 17, 2020 9:46 am
By Peter Omoniyi Gidado
Innovation reform is one of the contentious issues in developing countries today. In Nigeria, various Innovative policies and ideas have been initiated and developed by past and present governments with a view to fighting the scourge of unemployment bedeviling the nation. Here in the land of honour, Ekiti state, different agenda have been unveiled by successive government in power to tackle the menace of unemployment and to cure the ill condition of the economy of the 23-year old state. Noteworthy to mention is the constant innovative drives of the John Kayode Fayemi(JKF) led administration whose cardinal four-point agenda centre on the development of ideas and inventions that creates economic values for the good people of the state.
Ekiti state, created in October 1st 1996 by the late military president of Nigeria, General Sanni Abacha, prides herself as the fountain of knowledge due to the unrelenting quest for knowledge by the citizens of the hilly state. A sizeable number of the population are farmers who cultivate food and cash crops while majority of others are civil servants.The state is blessed with an array of mineral resources like gemstones, limestones, granites and iron ore which are well spread in different towns and villages in the state.The main source of income for the agrarian state is the monthly allocation from the federal government.Asides this are the meagre income generated from taxes and levies.
The yearnings from all and sundry especially the youths in the state registering their displeasure about the economic conditions of the state despite the large deposit of human and natural resources prompted many business analysts and economic thinkers to get on board and project that the recovery of the state’s economy lies on our commitment to embrace innovation.
Anderson and king(2001) posit that innovation is the implementation process by which creative inspiration leads to practical results.The Business dictionary also describes innovation as the process of translating an idea or invention into goods and services that create value or for which customers will pay. We can deduce from the two definitions that innovation means implementation of new ideas, improving services or creating dynamic product. Innovation has fundamentally changed the world to be a better place. The technological advancement in China and Japan, the artistic and touristic development in United Arab Emirates and France, the mind blowing researches in universities in United kingdom and the high profile green innovations projects in Switzerland were borne out of the innovative ideas of their leaders and citizens and this has helped to grow their economy rapidly.The centre of excellence, Lagos state is a practical example of state with high regards for innovation in Nigeria. Little wonder, the state is making unprecedented waves across the country and beyond.
The problem of massive unemployment and funds paucity in Ekiti state can be tackled if the state government can vigorously romance innovation as a viable option.The state government led by the visionary and innovation-loving Governor, Dr John Kayode Fayemi have been taking commendable steps to reposition the state through innovation since the inception of his administration in October 2018 which includes partnering with the African development bank(AFDB)to increase investment in the state. This aim at getting support from AFDB to create agricultural-processing zones and a knowledge hub for innovations in the state.Also,late last year, the state government accessed the $3million grants to three government technical colleges from world bank aid under the Bank’s Innovation and Development Effectiveness For Acquisition Of Skills(IDEAS) programme
Recently, through the efforts of JKF led administration, an NGO,The Bridgewater foundation promised about #300million to build five robotic and Innovation laboratories across Ekiti state to empower about 20,000 Ekiti youths.Furthermore, in his quest to make innovation appealing to the citizens, the first Lady of Ekiti state, Her Excellency Erelu Bisi Fayemi hosted a cocktail party where awards of recognition were given to Ekiti youths who are making impacts on Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) through their achievement in Innovation and social advocacy programmes. This is done to encourage youths in the state who are willing to explore the trending world of Innovation and advocacy.
Moreover, more have to be done by the government and all citizens of Ekiti to salvage the state from financial droop.The state government should make science and technology-based education enticing to the students.Rapid growth in information and communication technology (ICT) now affects our daily lives and helps improve on our wellbeing and as well add to the economy development of nations .To build a viable economy in Ekiti state, government at all levels should provide young innovators in schools with improved access to technology based education. According to a recent Pew research center data, majority of people across the developing world now have access to mobile phones with internet facilities. Accessibility to internet facilities will help young school children to build themselves up early and see the need to be Innovation driven. E-learning should be encouraged to access information that will bring about positive changes and new innovative orientation to students. More research grants should also be awarded to our institutions for researches.This will help potential innovators and the state in the long run.
Another major sector to consider in catapulting the economy of the state into its buoyancy is the agriculture sector. Since Ekiti state is blessed with abundant fertile land for farming, there’s need to utilise such enormous ‘blessings’ and make the state the food basket of the nation through agricultural innovations. Government should provide local farmers who still have the primitive believe that farming is all about cutlass and hoes with 21st century farming techniques, training and enhancement of technical knowledge to pave way for innovations in the sector. Modern equipment should be made available to farmers to go into commercial agriculture at subsidized rates. Also, moribund projects like the multi-million naira silos along the federal polytechnic road in Ado ekiti should be resuscitated for storing farm produce. Our very dear Igbemo rice and all other local farm produce that we produce more efficiently should be well branded and packaged for export to other regions. Coming of age through innovations in agriculture will lead to food security, poverty alleviation and economy development in Ekiti state.
Another way to make innovation a pathway to Ekiti economy development is by promoting science and arts exhibitions.The state government should as a matter of urgent needs partner with relevant agencies in the country and well meaning Ekiti sons and daughter by sponsoring arts and science exhibitions in schools and skills acquisition centres in the 16 local government councils of the state where hidden talents in the grassroots can be discovered and brought into limelight. Outcome of such exhibitions can be utilised and publicized to the world and by so doing harness the potentials of the innovators and by extension boost the economy of the state.
Another important mechanism to be adopted by the government is the development and empowerment of young innovators by allowing them access to grants from foreign and home based donors in order to maximise and monetize their potentials. Also,Bank loans with less interest rate should be given to them and with target to employ a certain number of Ekiti indigenes when their innovative ideas are transformed into reality. Training and re-training should be modelled for innovators for them to be conversant with recent happenings in the innovation world. Furthermore, government should provide an enabling environment for innovation to thrive in the state by allowing competition among different innovators and developers. Innovation hubs should be created in the three senatorial districts of the state to allow young and upcoming inventors to develop their skills
In addition, innovations should be encouraged in the state civil service to promote the culture of creativity in them.This should aim at improving on service delivery and to instill the virtues of innovation in workers for maximum best performance.
In conclusion, the zeal and commitment to rejuvenate the economy through Innovation by the state government and individuals should not wither or dwindle but should continue to snowball into happy ending for the people of Ekiti state. Our problems are surmountable when we start to take actions by turning our creative minds and ideas into innovation that will help boost our fragile economy.
(This article was earlier submitted as my entry to the 2019 JKF Annual Essay Writing Competition)
-Peter Omoniyi GIDADO is a 2018 graduate of Business Administration at Ekiti State University.He can be reached via +2348132340985 or Email : Undisputedpog@gmail.com