….Commends the CVCNU-AEIS Innovation Challenge Initiative, Budgets 95B Euros in Support of Research & Innovation Globally
The European Union has joined the growing list of well-wishers over the Diamond Jubilee of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) which will be marked later this year.
Professor Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary-General of the CVCNU led a delegation made up of senior members of the CVCNU management and project consultants, Red Sapphire Nig. Ltd on a courtesy call to the EU Delegation to Nigeria & ECOWAS at the EU Common Embassy, Abuja.
The essence of the courtesy call was to canvas the support and partnership of the EU Delegation towards a successful realization of the CVCNU-AEIS Innovation Challenge for Nigerian Universities, a project conceptualized by the body of Nigerian Vice-Chancellors as part of activities to mark the CVCNU 60TH Anniversary.
At hand to receive the CVCNU delegation were the Project Manager, Human Rights, Gender, Democracy, Governance and Migration, Esme Stuart, and other senior members of the unit.
In his address, CVCNU Secretary-General, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu explained that though the 60th Anniversary of the body was one deserving of fanfare given its many achievements over the years, the body had decided to have a low-key event in sympathy with over three million Nigerian University students who have been at home for six months as a result of the ongoing industrial strike action by ASUU.
According to the Ochefu, ” Our children are still at home. It wouldn’t speak well of us to disregard their plight by engaging in any form of celebration whatsoever. We have decided to shelve most of the activities we had lined up but we will still host a very low-key event just to mark the occasion”.
The Secretary-General also spoke on the CVCNU-AEIS Innovation Challenge for Nigerian Universities, describing it as an initiative of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors aimed at identifying innovators across 100+ Nigerian Universities, factoring Nigeria’s 6 geo-political zones.
The challenge according to him is the major highlight of the 60th Anniversary. He explained that the program which was signed off on September 22, 2021, seeks to harness the best of research and creativity focused on key sectors of the economy such as agriculture, environment, security, and ICT to conceptualize and develop solutions to the problems facing the economy which in turn could translate to multi-million Naira enterprises.
Prof. Ochefu informed me that calls for applications (CFA) went out on the 4th of August, 2022 via the application website http://aeis-challenge.ng. He further revealed that so far, a total of 322 applications were received in the first round and scaled it down to 100. While in the second round it was scaled further down to 35 start-ups who will be taken through a rigorous program before the final selection of winners across the 6 geo-political zones.
The Secretary-General further stressed that over the years, the CVCNU has been engaged in various initiatives aimed at repositioning the university education system for better experiences for both lecturers and students alike. According to him, ” the Innovation Challenge is also an avenue to keep our students occupied during this strike period. it is a first-of-its-type initiative and one that we believe will spur research, innovation, and entrepreneurship amongst our youth across the country. It is here to stay and we are calling on all stakeholders and well-wishers to be a part of this by supporting us”.
Esme Stuart who was visibly elated over the visit stated that the EU would positively identify with both the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the CVCNU and also the Innovation challenge which she described as a worthy endeavour in the right direction. She expressed the readiness of her unit to honour an invitation to attend the CVCNU 60TH Anniversary Symposium slated for October 2022 where a presentation would be made on a wide range of opportunities open to Nigerian Universities and which would be of immense benefit to the nation’s university students at all levels.
Top on the agenda of the presentation is the Horizon Europe (HE)Programme; a platform for research and innovation which is a new framework from the European Commission.
According to her, “Nigerian universities are eligible for the programme which will run from 2021 to 2027 with a total budget of 95bn Euros. The higher education sector is a key priority for the European Union. The Erasmus+ is the EU’s flagship programme to support higher education. In the 2021-2027 programme, the international dimension has been strengthened with particular focus on higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa”.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Stuart stated that the EU and her unit in particular would be most willing to oblige invitations by the CVCNU and relevant stakeholders to fashion out ways to improve the tertiary education system in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa at large.
On the CVC delegation included were Mr. Olu Adekunle, Okezie Okereke, and Mrs. Vivian Owei-El Shama representing the Project Managers, Red Sapphire Nig. Ltd.