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Why FG should regulate AI, other emerging technologies – Speaker Abbas

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, has stressed the need for Nigeria to have a regulatory framework in place for emerging technologies.

Speaker Abbas noted that though new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics have immense benefits, there is the need to check their misuse and abuse.

The Speaker, therefore, disclosed his readiness to sponsor a bill seeking to regulate emerging technologies soon.

Speaker Abbas made this known in Abuja on Monday at the 2022/2023 Convocation Ceremony of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies-University of Benin (NILDS-UNIBEN).

He said: “We are all aware of the challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria, including low enrolment, especially in rural areas. Despite government efforts and huge investment through the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), the challenge remains substantial. Out of 258 million out-of-school children worldwide, an estimated 62 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Nigeria accounts for a substantial percentage of this number. Other related challenges confronting the sector include low quality, outdated curricula, insufficient infrastructure and gender disparities. These existing problems have been worsened by insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic. In north-eastern Nigeria, attacks on schools, students, and teachers profoundly disrupted education.”

Cognisant of these and related challenges, the Speaker said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, is committed to repositioning and revitalising the education sector to make it more suited to meet contemporary challenges.

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He stated: “Of particular interest is the need to reform and update school curricula to ensure relevance in a rapidly changing global landscape. An outdated curriculum has been shown to result in skills mismatch and stagnation in innovation. This is important given that we live in a highly digital and innovations are evolving at the speed of light.”

Speaker Abbas noted that technological and scientific innovations such as in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are presenting opportunities hitherto thought impossible.

He also noted that AI can create many benefits such as better healthcare, safer and cleaner transport, more efficient manufacturing, and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

He further stressed that integrating AI into education presents a transformative shift in how teaching and learning are conducted.

He added that AI has the potential to customise learning, enhance educational tools, and improve administrative systems, offering several benefits and also posing unique challenges.

However, the Speaker stated: “Despite the opportunities of AI, there are risks involved. Datasets and algorithms can reflect or reinforce gender, racial or ideological biases. More critically, AI can deepen inequalities by automating routine tasks and displacing jobs.

“There is also likely to be a rise in identity theft and fraud, as evidenced by the use of AI to create highly realistic deep fakes. These are intended to misinform, trick and confuse people. Attackers use these maliciously crafted videos, photos and audio to create societal unrest, carry out fraud and damage the reputations of individuals and brands.

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“Accordingly and in recognition of the opportunities and threats posed by AI, the 10th House of Representatives will engage stakeholders and experts on this and related issues to leverage their potential and address issues of privacy, accountability, ethics, security and intellectual property. We will work with the Executive to ensure the integration of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and renewable energy into the curriculum.

“Therefore, in the coming weeks, I will introduce a bill to regulate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology in Nigeria. This will be the first such effort in Africa and one of only a few undertaken by parliaments worldwide.”

Signed:

Musa Abdullahi Krishi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Education

Nigeria Is Ndumed!

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By Jarlath Opara

He walks up to me, please I need food stuff. My stomach pains. For days I have not eaten anything and no hope of eating anytime soon.

I don’t have food stuff I replied but I can give you some money to buy things. No! I need food! What can money buy now. Money doesn’t have value anymore. I need food no matter how small.

Sadly, I am not the only one that have experienced this recently. Many had, an indication that “water don pass garri”. People hadly ask for money.

They want food. Hunger is everywhere. We pray we don’t get to the point of people finding human flesh something they can find delicious and crave for it.

This country is serially NDUMED. It seems there is no escape route. Each day that dawns and dusks, the profound reality of the Ndumed nature of this country becomes obvious.

There is cry of pains and deprivations everywhere. Cry that touches the heart with nothing around to bring succour, smiles and good life to the wailing, broken and shattered souls.

In the dungeon of life we are, covered with the duvet of corruption, impunity and nepotism by those who pledged to protect and provide for us.

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Our country is highly NDUMED ( Neglected, Disgraced Under Mismanaged Economic Disaster)

How can this be explained to a sane soul that a country rich in minerals, rich in human resources, rich in vegetation etc is NDUMED? (Neglected, Disgraced Under Mismanaged Economic Disaster) Sadly this is our funny reality, stuck in this mud, sinking daily to its very bottom. However we cry, their ears appear blocked.

Beyond God’s help what else can we do? Fold our hands and watch this country NDUMED in this manner with impunity by our leaders? Living in luxury and affluence and calling our bluff in this valley of hunger?

What else can we do apart from looking unto God?

Jarlath Opara Jarlathuche@gmail.com

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Education

FG Deploys New Batch of Volunteers to The Gambia,Urges Them to Uphold High Standards of Performance, Integrity

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A new batch of Volunteers of the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps has been deployed to The Gambia.

The 11 Volunteers,who comprised professionals from diverse backgrounds, including Law,Engineering and expertise in Entrepreneurial Studies, were urged to see their new charge as a call to serve humanity.

Speaking during the Pre-departure Orientation for the Volunteers, Director General of the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps,Rt.Hon.Yusuf Buba Yakub, congratulated the Volunteers on being among the very few beneficiaries of the 37-year-old Scheme chosen from a long list of over ten thousand applicants when the Agency advertised late last year.

Buba also called on the Volunteers to embody the values of integrity and simplicity and to portray Nigeria in positive light as Technical Diplomats in the recipient country. He highlighted that Nigeria’s approach to international relations is based on soft diplomacy, contrasting it with other nations that might rely on coercion.

He said:

“You are called Volunteers because you are going out there to serve humanity in The Gambia.Even if it is half a room that you are given to live in,please, accept it and commit to what you have been sent to do there.Always bear in mind that you are there to represent Nigeria.

“On behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,we are sending you to share with our sister African nation the abundant human resources our country possesses.

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“As your parents here,the Nigerian High Commission in The Gambia with our High Commissioner there will be your guardian.”

While admonishing the Volunteers to see themselves not as individuals,but as Nigeria itself,the TAC DG said whatever the Volunteers do in their host country would be seen as the action of the country,hence the need to always stay above board.

He also added that the Scheme, which was established in 1987 through the visionary minds of our past leaders was one important instrument of Diplomacy by which Nigeria has continued to make friends and carve partnerships across the world.Such friendships and partnerships,he said, usually come handy in periods of expediency.

Buba also used the occasion to inform of the recent visit of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia,Mr Dawuda Jawara,who used the opportunity to identify some of the skills that are lacking in their country and requested TAC to rise in filling those gaps identified.He then challenged the Volunteers to do all that was considered necessary to rise up to the situation at hand in that country.

Earlier,while presenting the Volunteers to the TAC DG,Director of Programmes at the Agency,Amb.Zakari Usman,tasked the Volunteers to carry high the flag of the country like other participants in the Scheme before them.He said it was by doing so that the objectives of the Scheme would be adequately realized.He encouraged the Volunteers to also adhere to the dos and don’ts of the TAC Scheme,adding that this would only be possible if they upheld the highest standards of conduct and integrity while representing the country abroad.

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Team Lead of the batch of Volunteers,Oyetunji Akinlabi,a Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering at the Federal University of Technology,Akure, thanked the Federal Government for the opportunity given to the Volunteers to serve their country.He pledged that,in line with Section 19 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999(as amended),the Volunteers will strive to promote the nation’s national interest and also at all times seek to engage in activities that are geared towards the promotion and preservation of African unity.

Among those who spoke for the Volunteers were Dr. Hope Tebira,a Deputy Director and Legal Draftsperson at the National Assembly, and Barr.Joseph Okete. They each pledged to ensure that the nationals of their host country received more than what they had requested from Nigeria.

The new batch of Volunteers will serve for 24 months in the Gambia in line with the statutory terms of engagement with the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps (NTAC).

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Arts and Life

Nasarawa University commences first Medical Geology degree programmes in Nigeria

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By David Odama

Nasarawa State University Keffi (NSUK) has begun the world’s first medical Geology Post Graduate programmes at the Jose Centino International Centre for Medical Geology (JacMedGeo) Research in the institution.

Director of Linkages and International Cooperation at the University, Dr Kitso Nghargbu confirmed the development told Journalists in Keffi, Nasarawa State Thursday. Thursday that a foremost medical geologist, medical geology is multi disciplinary in nature and a new discipline no other tertiary institution across the world has offered it.

“It is very young. The first text book in medical geology was published only in 2005. So it’s an emerging discipline and NSUK and by extension Nigeria, Africa has trailed the blaze.

“We have become the pace setters in running degree programmes at the Post Graduate Diploma, Masters and Doctorate levels as far as the whole world is concerned. So it goes beyond being the first in Nigeria and translates to being the first in the whole world,” Nghargbu stated.

He assured that the institution has made available a curriculum that has been prepared, assessed and approved by relevant education authorities which the Senate of the university approved for the commencement of the degree programmes.

“So the curriculum has been prepared. It has also been peer reviewed by founding fathers of medical geology, by the best experts in medical geology research in the whole world.

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“This center that has just been established -the Jose Centino International Centre for Medical Geology Research, NSUK is a project of the International Medical Geology Association at the global level supported by several scholars and researchers within the health and environment spheres,” he added.

He explained that for the Post Graduate Diploma in the discipline will take 18 months to complete while for the Masters Degree, it will take 24 months and completing the Doctorate Degrees program takes a maximum of 48 months.

“Admissions have started and it starts with the adverts. In the next eight weeks forms will be on sale. Then we take two weeks to shortlist. Then another three weeks for resumption and registration,” he said.

He also assured that there was enough manpower to handle the discipline in the institution with about 32 faculty members from across the world who are experts in the field of medical geology.

“Just yesterday the Deputy Minister of Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran wrote to us that he wants to be a part time lecturer in this centre.

“So manpower is adequate. So I want to assure you that even before we started sale of forms yesterday we had indication of interest from over ten countries. So its going to be a foremost international research centre,” he said.

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He then defined Medical Geology as the study of geological processes and materials with processes referred to earthquakes, volcanoes, climate change activities, flooding, tsunamis and all other forms of disasters geologically induced and sometimes caused by man.

“When you talk of materials, you talk of minerals, rocks, mineral waters or medicinal waters which are beneficial to man. So it’s a study of those geological processes that impact on man and his environment,” he said.

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