Expert Tasks Gen-Z On Breaking Bounds Through Innovation, Critical Thinking, Collaboration

Dr Victor Odumuyiwa, Senior Lecturer, Computer Science Department, University of Lagos, had urged students in universities across the country to strive to push their boundaries in a bid to come up with ideas that will change the norms.

Odumuyiwa advised on an innovation competition organised by the Faculty of Science of UNILAG, in collaboration with the Prof. Ogundipe Innovation and Science Foundation, the second in the series, recently, in Lagos

The theme of the competition is: Empowering the Future, Unleashing the Potentials of the Gen-Z, for Disruptive Innovation.

Odumuyiwa who was the keynote speaker at the competition, stated that tomorrow’s future belonged to the youth and that such future may not be fulfilling if they failed to look beyond the present and chart a better way going forward.

He challenged the youth to always be a step ahead in finding solutions to present-day challenges such as those in education, health, technology, energy and insecurity, rather than leaving the country in droves.

According to him, one thing that leads to disruption is the ability to separate the end goal from the process of achieving it.

“Our youth must strive to barriers and impossibility mentality. Some already believe that the country can never be better, but we want to say no to that.

“We must look for a means of changing the narrative and turn things around. Learning for instance is not about the information we acquire. For example, we were dealing with the library as a reservoir of knowledge and then came Google.

“It is not the loony duration of time that you put into learning that matters, but what you can do to solve challenges with that thing you have learnt.

“A lot therefore depends on this Gen-Z group. The way they live and think is different from the way we do. Some say that the Gen-Z group are artists, inventors and entrepreneurs.  

“Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) literacy is no longer what we need, rather, AI dexterity. Our today’s youth don’t understand boundaries. They create easily. They don’t believe in the mentality of limitation. They want to go forward and achieve

“The young people are also in a hurry to escape poverty and until we change that, we will keep producing and they will keep going. They say ideas rule the world, I beg to disagree, it is the implementers of such ideas that do,” he said.

Odumuyiwa then urged the government to provide the enabling environment for the ideas of these youths to be birthed. He said there was the need for favourable regulation in place for innovative ideas to be brought to reality as well as the availability of access to capital

“Government must also ensure that we encourage vulture that fosters entrepreneurship,” he said.

“On the part of the university, I advocated for a rainforest approach to innovation, as well as strive to embrace disruptive education.

“For the young people, they must also strive to imbibe the culture of patience, to ensure they have that depth, as well as sustainability. Strategic partnership and collaboration is also very key. They must identify platforms and opportunities that can help them bring out innovation,” he stated.

According to him, good ideas are not adopted automatically, they must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.

He added that once implemented, they could be easily overturned or subverted through aparthy or lack of follow-up, as continuous efforts are required.

Also speaking, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, immediate past Vice Chancellor of the university, said that the entire idea behind the competition was about developing Nigerian students in the area of innovation to find solutions to the country’s challenges.

Prof. Ogundipe on whose behalf the competition was launched, added that about 900 students from various universities across the entered the competition, with 200 shortlisted thereafter.

He added that these 200 later came up with various ideas, which also saw 100 shortlisted and later brought down to five.

“I want to return all the glory to God because what we are seeing here today is the handiwork of students in our faculty, the Faculty of Science.

“They decided to come up with an enduring programme for me so that even after leaving office, they will be doing it annually and that is what led to the Prof. Ogundipe Innovation Challenge, where they bring in students from all over the country to compete.

“During the maiden edition of this competition in 2019, some of the people who participated and won the award are doing brilliantly well now in different areas, some have started their businesses.

“Because of COVID and the strike, it was however delayed till this time and I want to assume that the next one, definitely will be done before the end of the year.

“So, the main focus is to encourage students to be their masters, and start-up their businesses and that is the concept of the entire programme.

As I speak, we have teams from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Lagos State University (LASU) and of course, UNILAG among others,” he said.

Speaking on the sustainability of the competition, he said that the organisers have involved a foundation and that donations from the foundation would be used to run the programme.

He noted that the team that wins the competition would have a prize money of N1 million.

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