The Deputy National Chairman of Nigerian Institution of Mehanical Engineers, Engr., Mrs Funmilade Akingbagbohun, has urged African leaders, elites and professional bodies to collaborate in raising funds for research grants to empower Africa’s vibrant youths to drive the continent’s development.
Akingbagbohun, the Deputy National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, made the call on Saturday while receiving an award from the Trans-African Youth Initiative (TAYI).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that TAYI represents all youths in the 53 Commonwealth nations advancing youth development agenda and coordinating activities and policies of the committee for youths.
Akingbagbohun appealed to the elites, leaders and professional associations to begin to make little donations to form a large pool to be able to give research grants and not perpetually rely on foreign donors.
She thanked TAYI for identifying with Africans making vital contributions, noting that the continent had vast human and natural resources that could be harnessed for revolutionary development only through research.
“I feel passion towards the youths and I keep saying it, the youths are the ones who will develop Africa. We the older ones are already leaving the centre stage for the youths.
“What are we leaving for them? Are we leaving professionalism, development, innovation, creativity, what problems are we solving as professionals in our environment in Africa?
“It is a great disappointment, twice I have worked on grants sponsored outside of Africa for Africans. What are we as African leaders doing to ensure we give a grant?
“We feel that our N10,000 or N20,000 is too small, it can go a long way in changing the dynamism of research in an institution. What are we doing? We are always running after grants from other countries,’’ she said.
She also appealed to the educated class to make occasional donations to fund research in their alma mater while also calling on young engineers to come out with inventions to solve problems in their localities.
Akingbagbohun, who is the immediate past chairman of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, reeled out statistics of inventions by youths under her leadership to curb spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“We must carry the crusade to the youths to change the world, to change Africa,’’ she said.
While giving his opening speech, Amb. Bakare Luqman, TAYI Nigerian Representative in Abuja, said that that the organisation represented 1.2 billion young people of the Commonwealth.
Luqman listed various programmes of TAYI aimed at positive initiatives by youths towards development in Africa as well as monitoring and rewarding excellence in leadership in the Commonwealth countries.
The representative commended the leadership quality of Akingbagbohun and praised her for contributing to nation building and youth development.
He called on Nigerian leaders to uphold the vision of unity of the nation’s founding fathers to build a stronger nation and address various issues of insurgency, militancy and insecurity in the country.
Luqman used the occasion to announce TAYI summit coming up in Accra, Ghana from May 24 to May 27, which will be replicated in all Commonwealth African countries including all local governments in Nigeria.
“The award recipient has earned herself this Nelson Mandela most revered Africa Patriot award of excellence as African Patriotic Leader which was unanimously agreed at the national executive meeting held at the United Nations Youth Assembly, New Portien, South Africa.
“Indeed, the recipient has won the hearts of African Youth by her conduct and credentials as a distinguished leader, dogged administrator, bastion of hope and a stateman per excellence,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Helen Avidimen, TAYI Assistant Head of Mission, from Accra, Ghana decorated the award recipient in the Ghana Kente regalia alongside presentation of plaque by the leadership of the association.
Other TAYI delegates include Amb. Yusuf Gbemisola, Regional General Secretary from Abuja, Amb. Olatunji Dare, Director of Soft and Publicity, Kwara State and Amb. Victor Collins, Director of Mobilization, Kumasi.
Others are Mr John Jerome, Ex-Officio from Edo State, and Mr Ahmed Culibally, CommonWealth Youth Council, University Decocodi, Cote I’Viore. (NAN)