-Corporate, IT experts commend Senator, wife
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olushola Sanwo – Olu, last Friday, commissioned the Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL) in Ikorodu, stating that he has no doubt that the Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District, Sen. Tokunbo Abiru who initiated the lab, will exceed all expectations of the electorates with his uncommon and quality representation.
Sanwo – Olu also described the initiative as another first from Ikorodu, and which will engender many innovative ideas and achievements in the state and country as a whole.
SAIL, which was created by the lawmaker in 2021, is a unique community innovation space for young people in Lagos East with the primary purpose of creating employment opportunities, inspiring grassroots innovation and building partnerships and networks that will drive economic prosperity and solve significant social and business problems.
Also visiting the facility, which was created in partnership with Co – Creation Hub (CcHub), Africa’s first innovative centre, was the Vice President – elect, Sen. Kassim Shettima.
Speaking during the commissioning, Governor Sanwo-Olu said that:
“As you can see the enthusiasm and the appreciation in my voice, it’s not every time that you will come forward to celebrate one of your own; see men that are selfless and not every time that you will see politicians that are doing good in politics. That kind of an example is Sen. Tokunbo Abiru.
“I have no doubt that Senator Tokunbo Abiru will exceed the confidence and the expectations of the people of Lagos East Senatorial District. So, I feel really happy and excited today that some of the things that we promised as a government, we are beginning to see our partners in the likes of our distinguished Senator, doing that and doing it very well”, Gov. Sanwo – Olu said at the commissioning.
“We are in government to change and improve the quality of lives of our people; we are in government to be able to give opportunities to the people that probably consider it a privilege to have some services; we are in government to be able to give work and be the voice of the voiceless, and to be able to give opportunities to people that would have ordinarily think that it is not applicable.
“I am really excited that he has thought it fits with his partners, and you can see the benefits coming out”.
While stating that SAIL is another first from Ikorodu and thanked Abiru for initiating it, Sanwo – Olu also said that the facility will create opportunities for Lagos youths to excel.
“Sail, the Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL), means to have a capacity to take you on a journey from one point to another. That is what the Senator has created here today and he has created it not for himself or his children but for the youths of Lagos East and Lagos. He has created an opportunity for all of the kids in Lagos and of course, all of the kids in Ikorodu whom I am sure will also write on the map again, because several firsts have come out of Ikorodu”, Gov. Sanwo – Olu said.
“We know of the great people and young men that have come out of Ikorodu. We know that Ikorodu will continue to remain the hub of so many firsts in our country. This (SAIL) is another first for us.
“So, on behalf of those great kids, the youths and the innovative young Nigerians that will be using this facility, I want to thank Sen. And Mrs Abiru. I want to thank you for your vision, passion and interest in giving back to mankind, while you are still alive. And of course, to the trustees that will be working with you, I want to say thank you.
“To all the youths and students that will be making use of this facility, you have seen that what this is all about is giving you the opportunity; what this is all about is to ensure that you don’t ‘japa’ (embark on economic migration abroad), to be able to compete and be the best in the world”, he said.
The Governor acknowledged the impacts of young men like Bosun and Iyun, both of whom he said have been able to develop themselves from nothing to a status where they are now impacting technologically on the country and beyond. Sanwo – Olu added that the government is doing everything possible to replicate their likes and use technology in developing the state.
“Tijani and Iyun will tell you that they caught their teeth in Yaba, you can have your teeth in Ikorodu and the sky is there for us to explore. You don’t have any reason to leave the shore of this place. Once you finish your training here, you will be led to the Microsoft, Meta, Mywung and all the banks are also looking for you. Even while you are here, you can become international employers in America and India, but just hope that you don’t have problem with the government by paying your tax”.
While stating that Lagos will continue to provide an enabling environment for international businesses, especially in the ICT/technological sector, Sanwo – Olu also added that about 65% of all technologically driven investments have come to Lagos.
He added that Lagos will continue to remain the number one tech hub far and above Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kigali in Rwanda.
The Senator representing Lagos East in the upper chamber and the initiator of SAIL, Sen. Tokunbo Abiru, while recalling how Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) revolutionised the banking industry in Nigeria with real time banking with the aid of technology, said that there is need for youths in the country to upgrade their knowledge with digital capacity to be fit for the demand of markets in today’s world.
He said that his experience with Polaris bank where the bank upgraded its operations to satisfy its customers effectively but later discovered, after spending so much money in acquiring latest banking technology, that its staff are not technological savvy, propelled the SAIL initiative.
“The trust is that there are jobs out there but the truth is that we don’t have the skills to match the jobs. That is the essence of SAIL. That is the real idea; the driving force”, he said.
“So, when I came on this assignment as a Senator with the mandate that the good people of Lagos East gave me, I knew that the typical ways my contemporaries would go about it are the traditional roles of legislation, policy formulation and empowerment, but I had to come up with an endowment.
“The endowment came right on the back of what we called, SAIL Foundation. The foundation that you are seeing here today is the handiwork of my wife and I”.
The Senator, who said that SAIL is partnering with top innovators to impact on students that will be admitted into the facility, also added that training for students will remain free. He, however, sought support from privileged individuals and corporate bodies in attendance.
“ln today’s world, when you have a facility like this, you must put in place a faculty that is dedicated to teaching in the facility that you have built and that is why we had searched so carefully to look for the best and that is why we have Bosun Tijani, the Co – founder of CcHub. You will all attest that we have looked for the best partner anybody can find in Nigeria today”, he said.
“I also want to confirm here today that for every participant that is passing through this facility and that will continue to pass through it, it will remain free of charge for them. That is our own contribution to the development of the society”.
He listed Tech Talent Development Programme, STEM for Senior Secondary School Students, Lagos East Teachers Fellowship, Start – Up Accelerator and Community Events and Ecosystem Engagements as programmes being run by the SAIL.
Abiru, speaking further on the impacts that the innovative lab will have on the students and the community at large, said:
“In this age where digital skills are high in – demand, the lab will help to bridge the resource – gap. In the coming months and years, we will be offering a range of training programs in areas such as digital product, data science, meta etc”, he said.
“We will also be providing access to cutting – edge technology and resources, to support our participants as they develop their skills. We will work closely with indigenous employers and other stakeholders to ensure that our programmes meet the needs of the market and provide our graduates with real career opportunities.
“I am confident that the SAIL Lab will be a valuable asset to our community and I thank all the stakeholders who have supported this project and I will continue to look forward to the impacts it would have on the lives of our people and I encourage all the interested partners to take advantage of this”, he said.
Mrs. Feyisola Abiru, Co-founder of the innovation lab, noted that the innovation lab was the first of its kind in the Lagos East Senatorial District, describing it as an idea conceived to assist in the development of youths and redefine representation.
“Today holds great significance due to both the esteemed assembly we have gathered here and the importance of the task at hand. As someone who has enjoyed a front – row in the realization of this legacy, I must say that I am both humbled and grateful that the commitment to the project has paid off”, she said.
“Since 2021, the SAIL Innovation Lab has been an incubation hub for tech and innovation, which we all know has changed the world in many significant ways, including areas of personal enterprise.
“Today, we are not only witnessing the birth of a legacy; this is the fulfilment of a promise to make a difference as a representative of the people. Having known Senator Abiru for over 30 years, I can categorically say that the SAIL Innovation Lab is not just another community project, but a passion, because he believes in the youths and the power of the right education. More importantly, he believes that excellence, hardwork and the right experiences can deliver a great future for anyone who chooses to take the lessons”.
Microsoft Country Manager, Ms Ola Williams, in her remarks, said that SAIL has provided a platform for enduring and sustainable development, adding that Microsoft will be willing to synergize with the SAIL for greater impact.
Adaora Oshodi – Ikenze, Head of Public Policy in Nigeria, Meta (Facebook), described SAIL Innovation Lab facility as worldclass. She said the facility and the quality of faculty can stand shoulder to shoulder with any Innovation Lab in the world.
Managing Director, Bank of Industries, Mr Olukayode Pitan, said that the SAIL Innovation Lab demonstrates Senator Abiru’s passion for youth development and capacity building.
He added that the Innovation Lab will impact greatly on the people of Lagos East Senatorial District.
Also at the commissioning were royal fathers, chieftains of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), members of the Lagos State Executive Council; members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Council Chairmen, community leaders, SAIL corporate and technical partners, selected participants from previous cohorts of the programmes offered at the lab among others.