Civil Engineering Professor and Director, Centre for Renewable Energy, Federal University of Technology, Akure, (FUTA), Olurinde Lafe has tasked Federal government on the decentralization of governance to accommodate technological advancement at grassroots levels for the purpose of national development. Speaking on “Abulecentrism – Solving Problems the Way of the Ants” at the second International Conference of the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, under the theme “Innovative and Adaptive Technology for National Development”, Lafe emphasized the adoption of Abulecentrism,- a term coined from the Yoruba language , referring to the rural community, as the rapid development of the society centered at the local community level -as the catalyst to sustainable, participatory and accountable development in the nation.
He cited the example of team work, commitment and participatory investment in the development of the ant colony as a prerequisite to sustainable development. He noted that every member of the colony is a task bearer which creates a sense of inclusion that often than not encourages dedication to growth. He called on government to borrow a leaf from the pattern of living of ants which he related directly to rural communal living, adding that it is a natural unit of development.
Stressing the immediate need for decentralization of governance to reflect Abulecentrism, Lafe advised that the philosophy be employed in the area of agriculture, water supply, governance, transportation, power development, security, health care, housing, industrialization and education for desired impact. He listed participation, commitment, absence of institutional corruption, natural/organic growth, empowerment of small players, youth employment, maintenance and internal security as gains of Abulecentrism.
While suggesting steps to the successful execution of Abulecentrism, Lafe urged government to explore solutions to problems by engaging stakeholders at community levels, engaging small and medium scale enterprises, breaking infrastructural projects, developing human capacity, creating incentives and enforcing prescribed rules and regulations.
He noted however the challenges of Abulecentrism in sub-Saharan Africa which parades about 3,000 ethnic groups and a population of over 1 billion people as over centralization of governance, unsustainability of large scale project execution and service provision, low human capacity development, poor maintenance culture, absence of incentive to perform, insecurity and weak institutions which he reiterated have been sets backs for decades.
Citing China’s communal and participatory system of governance as an example of a lead to industrial success, he called on government to maintain its regulatory role and relinquish production to the grassroots which he described as having the natural capacity for development.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape, in his remarks lent credence to the nation having the best brains in academics and charged stakeholders to adapt skills relevant for problem solving. He described the theme of the conference as apt judging by the current call for need-driven research in technological innovation and creation of wealth for national development. He encouraged participants to use the platform to advance development of technology by cross-breeding ideas and knowledge. He also provoked students to begin to see and take product innovation seriously, emphasizing that technology is dynamic and the future depends on them.
In his address, the Dean, School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, Professor Michael Alatise disclosed that the theme, being topical, with about nine sub-themes had attracted articles from seasoned Engineers and Scientists from far and near. Presenting goodwill messages, the duo of the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Oludare Ajewole and Director, Centre for Space Research and Applications (CESRA), Professor Joseph Akinyede, expressed commitment to the development of technology in the nation, particularly stressing on past and present collaborations including the recent launch of the first cube satellite in June this year.
Professor Akinyede further expressed optimism that the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology would in no time design a satellite to address security, oil and gas-spillages, pipeline monitoring issues to help move FUTA and Nigeria to forward.