Vice -President Yemi Osinbajo has tasked the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(NIPSS) to plan, interpret and predict trends on food security, technology, climate change and other related phenomena.
Osinbajo gave this charge at the Presidential Villa while inaugurating the newly constituted 11-man Board of Trustees of the NIPSS Endowment Fund, chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar.
Other members of the board physically present were the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, Gbong Gwom, Jos, Dr Jacob Buba, Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Mr Marc Wabara, Mr Yusuf Alli, Prof. Hilary Inyang and Dr Sarah Jibril.
Members of the board who were unavoidably absent were Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiola, Mr Julius Adeluyi and Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, former Minister of Finance.
The vice-president commended the chairman and members for accepting to serve in the board.
Osinbajo said that since 1979 when NIPSS was established, it had proven to be the foremost institution for reflection, for ideation and for research as its mandate actually prescribed.
“ In the coming years it would become perhaps even more challenged to do much more in thee coming years.
“And for many of us who are watching and studying, I think it is very evident that what we see and the challenges as I speak now not just local challenges but global challenges are of an order that require great introspection and thinking, and a lot of planning.
“So, I believe that NIPSS and what we are trying to constitute today is one that would have to plan, predict and interpret the trends of the coming years; and those trends would be many.
“One would be the various challenges that the world would face; we are going, aside from food security, huge problems of poverty at a scale that appears to be increasing all across the world—and I speak not just for our own region—all across the world,”Osinbajo said.
The vice-president also said that the world was moving very quickly with technology; adding, “as a matter of fact, it would appear as the world is moving literally on technology steroids.
“We are moving so quickly that it is possible that if we are not at the cutting edge to be left behind.
“ Also, there would be problems; we have seen already climate change and all the implications for the future of our planet and for the future of our socio-economic circumstances of the world and in particular developing countries and of course, Nigeria.’’
Osinbajo said that the think-tanks that were best known all over the world were the places where the creative ideas and the solutions of the future were birthed.
The vice-president said that he believed very strongly that NIPSS had an opportunity to become one of the leading and foremost thought leaders soon.
He added: “ There is so much the world itself does not know about and I think that this is the right opportunity for NIPSS to really take on the mandate.
“It should use that mandate creatively, not just to influence Nigeria and to prepare Nigeria for the future, but to prepare our region and prepare the world for the future.
“ This is why I think the constitution of the Board of Trustees is important.’’
Osinbajo said it was most absurd to think that the foremost think-tank in Nigeria would be run like a civil service institution and would depend almost on a daily basis on whatever it got from the budget.
He said that no major think-tank in the world would be run like that.
“And the reason is because the independence of the think tank is also important; and I speak now of academic independence.
“ Academic independence is not just the freedom of speech; that’s not what is even important.
“ It is more of the ability to do unconstrained research without the constraint of resources; you should not be constrained by resources given the enormity of the task that the institute has.
“ That is why I think that the role of the Board of Trustees is so well cut out for it.
“We expect that the board, aside from everything else, will lead in looking for resources that will put NIPPS in a position to able to face the challenges of the future and those resources are mainly financial resources,’’ he said.
The vice-president said he was pleased that some renowned traditional rulers were part of the board as their immense knowledge and wealth of experience would be impactful.
Osinbajo mbajo also inaugurated the Academic Advisory Committee of NIPSS.
Members of the committee are Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, retired Maj.-Gen. Inuwa Idris, Prof. Ike Nwachukwu, Prof. Joh Laah, Prof. Yemisi Fawolw, Prof. Abiodun Alao, and Dr Fatima Akilu.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, expressed optimism that the board and the committee would deliver on their mandates.
Responding on behalf of the two bodies inaugurated, Abubakar said that world over, think-tanks were contributing to national growth; hence Nigeria must harness the potential of NIPSS.(NAN)