Inauguration Of The Board Of Trustees Of The National Institutue Of Policy & Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Endowment Fund

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I must say first that over the years since 1979 when NIPSS was established, it has proved to be the foremost institution for reflection, ideation and for research that its mandate actually prescribes. And in the coming years, it will become perhaps even more challenging to do much more.


In the coming years for many of us who are watching and studying, I think it is very evident that what we see and the challenges (not just local but global challenges) that we will face will be of an order that will 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 will have to plan, predict and interpret the trends of the coming years. And those trends will be many. One will be the various challenges that the world will face. Aside from food security, huge problems of poverty on a scale that appears to be increasing all across the world and I speak not just in our own region but globally.


And at the same time, this is a world that is moving very quickly on technology, as a matter of fact, the world is moving literarily on technology steroids, it is moving so quickly that it is possible if we are not at the cutting edge, we will be left behind. And also, there will be problems (as we are seeing already) of Climate Change and all the implications for the future of our planet and the socio-economic circumstances of the world, and in particular, developing countries and of course, Nigeria.



All the Think-Tanks in the world are reviewing their approaches to research and they are all thinking, what are we going to be required to do in the next few years? The Think-Tanks that are best known all over the world, are places where creative ideas and solutions for the future are birthed. I believe very strongly that NIPSS has before it, an opportunity to become one of the leading and foremost thought leaders in the world in the next few years. I think that there is a real opportunity now to do so.


And it is because there is so much that is new and there is so much that many people do not know about, there is so much that the world itself does not know about and I think this is the opportunity for NIPSS to really take on the mandate and use that mandate creatively to prepare Nigeria for the future and to prepare our region and the world for the future. This is why the constitution of the Board of Trustees is important.


I have had conversations about this with previous Directors-General about NIPSS, and one of the critical things that I said is that we cannot have an institution of the importance of NIPSS that relies solely on government funding. It is almost absurd that the foremost Think-Tank in Nigeria will be run like a civil service institution, and it will depend, almost on a daily basis, on government budget, that is not how Think-Tanks are run.


There is no major Think-Tank that is run like that. The simple reason is that the independence of the Think-Tank is also important, and I speak now of academic independence and academic independence is not only about freedom of speech, that is not what is even more important. It is more the ability to do unrestrained research – unrestrained meaning without the constraints of resources. You should not be constrained by resources, given the enormity of the task that the institution has, which is why I think that the role of the board is very well cut out.


We expect that the Board of Trustees aside from everything else, will lead in looking for the resources that will put NIPSS in the position to be able to face the challenges of the future and those resources are mainly financial. With financial resources, NIPSS can collaborate with Think-Tanks all over the world, can bring in scholars from anywhere in the world, and can align with other groups and Think-Tanks anywhere in the world.



We can do the other things that Think-Tanks do and we can be more useful in fulfilling our mandate. I think that this Board of Trustees is one that has a historic mandate which is to take this Think-Tank into the future and we have the right set of people to do so.


I am extremely pleased that their Royal Highnesses accepted. The Chair, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, who is usually somebody I bounce a lot of ideas off, is not surprising that he is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is someone that has shown a penchant not just for academia and research but also for being actively involved in thinking through some of the challenges of Nigeria and the future. He is not only involved in thinking but also involved in writing as well.


I also want to say that I’m excited that the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, is also here with us. He is someone who was taken out of the private sector and distinguished himself very early, especially in the oil and gas sector and has shown that he is someone who is able not just to run private enterprise, but to attract resources that are required to do very well in that sector. I am pleased that he is bringing not just his experience in the private sector but his own particular love for this country and his enthusiasm for bringing young people to do great things for our country.


The Gbong Gwom of Jos, Dr. Jacob Gyang Buba, thank you and I am excited you have chosen to join the Board of Trustees. When I was shown the list, I thought that we have stuck gold by getting you to come on board with so many years of experience.


I would like to thank you all and the members, I am excited that you accepted to be members of this Board of Trustees. The most important task of all is the one where we hope you will be able to excel in being able to attract the sorts of resources that this institution now needs.


Before I formally inaugurate the board, I think that there will be opportunities for us to meet so that we can have a more detailed meeting. I would like to share my thoughts on how I think we can do this work and would like to hear your own thoughts. NIPPS for me is such an important institution because I believe that the future of thinking and planning for our country depends on how well NIPSS is resourced and organized.


It is now my pleasure to formally inaugurate the Board of Trustees of NIPSS for the benefit of the people of Nigeria and for the glory of the Almighty God.