ABUAD VC emerges Vice President of National Artificial Intelligence Body

By Tunde Olofintila

The Vice Chancellor of the increasingly famous Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, ABUAD, Prof. Elisabeta Smaranda Olarinde, FCAI, FC.Arb, has been elected the Vice President (South-West) of the newly inaugurated National Association of Artificial Intelligence Practitioners, NAAIP.

Olarinde’s appointment to this high office is coming two years after she was elected as the Representative of West Africa on the Governing Council of the Association of African Universities, AAU.

The Executive Officers of the nascent NAAIP are Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, as President, Professor Shehu Adamu Iya (Vice President North-East), Professor Nasiru Maiturare (Vice President North-West); Professor Emmanuel Samu Dandaura (Vice President North-Central); Professor Elisabeta Smaranda Olarinde (Vice President South-West); and Professor Joy Eyisi (Vice President South-East) as well as Professor Jonathan Tsetimi (Vice President South-South).

Others are Dr Kehinde Abiola (General Secretary); Professor Aleruchi Chuku (Assistant General Secretary); Professor Khadijat Adenola Yahaya (Treasurer) and Professor Nkechinyere Nwokoye (Publicity Secretary).

These distinguished Academics and robust Administrators who have made their marks in Academics, Research, Educational Administration and Community Development, nationally and internationally, are mostly either former or serving Vice-Chancellors, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, and other highly placed Officers in the country’s Higher Education landscape.

These leaders who were elected through a rigorous process will steer the ship of the Association toward its mission of advancing AI education and practice across Nigeria.

NAAIP was founded on April 29, 2024, as a high point of the Graduation Ceremony of 931 participants drawn from Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education across Nigeria who participated in a 13-week rigorous training on the use of Artificial Intelligence to support teaching, research and community engagement.

Speaking at the inauguration of pioneer Executive Officers of NAAIP over the weekend, Ogunbodede expressed profound appreciation to the Visioner and Founder of NAAIP, Prof. Peter Akinsola Okebukola, who is also the Facilitator-General of the Virtual Institute for Capacity Building in Higher Education (VICBHE), the Body that conducted the AI course that produced the Charter Members of the Association.

According to Ogunbodede, the establishment of NAAIP by Okebukola who had at various times been the Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State and the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, is another testimony to Okebukola’s giant strides in his continuous contributions to the development of education globally.

On the place and import of Artificial Intelligence, Ogunbodede said: “The use and dominance of AI has become unstoppable. As it continues to evolve, its effect will shape the future of global economy, and Nigeria has been put at advantage with the inauguration of NAAIP”.

He added: “Our Association will support the Federal Government in its bid to establish a national strategy and develop a road map to harness the potentials of AI for the overall benefit of the Nigerian society and the economy.

“But the Federal Government equally has a role to play by positioning the country as a leading AI hub on the continent of Africa. On its part, NAAIP will support the Federal Government in its noble objectives, and we will also support the Researchers, Educators, Developers and AI enthusiasts to collectively provide quality services that will increase production and productivity of governance in all sectors of the economy”.

However, the NAAIP President observed that as promising as AI technologies are, and even with the myriad of strengths and opportunities, it has become evident that it has some weaknesses and threats.

To ameliorate these negative attributes, he promised that NAAIP will promote ethical practice of AI and ensure responsible use of AI in the society.

“NAAIP will promote advocacy and Policy Development to shape regulations and guidelines that promote the responsible and equitable use of AI, support Research on AI matters, and strengthen Education at all levels in the country”, he said.

He added: “The Association will enhance the provision of educational resources to accelerate understanding of AI technologies and their impacts in the society. It will develop ethical frameworks and best practices to guide the development and deployment of AI systems in a manner that prioritizes safety, fairness, transparency, and accountability, collaboration and networking among AI professionals, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to foster innovation and knowledge exchange.

The NAAIP President revealed that the membership of the Association is open to individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to advancing the ethical development and deployment of AI technologies, stressing that the benefits to members include continuous capacity development, networking opportunities and access to educational resources.

He said that the Association will work hand-in-hand with the Virtual Institute for Capacity Building in Higher Education (VICBHE) for its training programmes and engage in National and International collaborations with organisations with similar aims and objectives and priorities.

In his comments, Okebukola described the establishment of NAAIP as another veritable evidence that Nigeria is the leading country in Africa in terms of educational developments.

He pledged his continuous support for the Association and expressed his confidence in the ability of NAAIP to take the lead in AI not only in Africa but internationally, judging by the caliber and commitment of the officers and members.

Reacting to her new assignment, Olarinde promised to bring her four decades of cumulative experience as a Law teacher, Academic, Scholar, University Administrator and Legal Practitioner to bear on her appointment to shape the practice and future of AI practice in Nigeria.

* Olofintila, ABUAD’s Director, Corporate Affairs, writes from Ado-Ekiti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *