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Opinion

This administration will break jinx of non-harmonisation of database in Nigeria – Interior Minister

The Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has given the assurance that the current administration will be break the jinx of the non-harmonisation of database in the country, saying the integrity of the nation’s travel documents would be restored by so doing.

He gave the assurance in Lagos on Monday while speaking at the opening ceremony of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, International Week 2023. The theme of the week is “Breaking the borders of partnership.”

The Minister, who said saving citizens’ biometrics data in different formats and by different agencies was not only a waste of time and resources, but that it made the job of security agents cumbersome.

“Identity is who we are, what we are, and what we live for. But today, what we have is a duplication of our registration. We have the BVN in the bank, the international passport, the NIN, SIM card registration by telecos, and so on, all of which request your data. The integrity of our travel documents must be restored through the harmonisation of our data.

“We have the directive of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under the Renewed Hope Agenda, to harmonise the country’s database. When we harmonise our data, there will be an exchange amongst agencies such that when our people need data for passport and visa applications, or BVN, with their NIN, their data can be pulled out. This will not only save us stress, cost, and energy but also help us optimise our processes and the country’s security architecture,” he stated.

On the issuance of passport and visas by Nigerian embassies, he said the process had been made less stressful and that the clearance of backlog of travel documents in the last three weeks was a testimony to the new mode of doing things in the ministry.

Tunji-Ojo, harping on the theme of the event, opined that partnerships were the cornerstone of progress.

“The beauty of the present century is that it has afforded us the luxury of connection; it has given us the strings and needles upon which we can weave for ourselves a world where, though we are far away, we are interconnected.

“The theme, “Breaking the Borders of Partnership,” reminds us that the challenges we face are not confined by geographical boundaries. Whether it’s addressing climate change, promoting global health, ensuring peace and security, or fostering economic prosperity, our world is more interconnected than ever before. To tackle these complex issues effectively, we must embrace partnerships that transcend borders,” he added.

In her speech, the Vice Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, said if universities and the likes would be valuable to the knowledge economy of the 21st Century, they would have to adapt to the imperatives of internationalising higher education.

“As we all know, the productivity of academia as the gateway to a knowledge economy is enriched by cross-fertilisation of thoughts and ideas that add depth and breadth to knowledge and understanding. It is against this backdrop that University of Lagos adopted its internationalisation agenda and strategy about a decade ago.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, for all its negative impact, was unprecedented in its elevation of the awareness that those at the vanguard of the knowledge economy would need to take urgent action to evolve a new culture committed to promoting local and global knowledge sharing, partnerships and collaborative actions to advance teaching, learning and research. Like never before, it became clear that the world had, indeed, become a global village and we all need to be talking to one another, teaching and learning from one another, collaborating with one another to unlock the potentials of research for solving human problems,” she stated.

In his keynote speech, Prof. Iain Gillespie, the Vice Chancellor, University of Dundee, Scotland, described universities as the core of civilization and the beating hearts of the society.

Listing the needs for partnerships among universities, Gillespie said they would enhance capacity building, maximize delivery and growth, create an enterprising culture, make education accessible among others.

To start with, he announced that the University of Dundee and UNILAG would pioneer United Kingdom’s first dual Master of Law, LLM, programme.

The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Dr Chris Maiyaki, noted that Nigerian universities partnering foreign ones would help boost their global rankings.

He gave the commitment of the NUC to assist Nigerian universities to achieve their mandates.

The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, emphasised the need for Nigerian universities to be able to attract foreign students and lecturers.

“To do that, there must be minimal disruption of academic calendar and the provision of modern facilities. In TETFund, we are helping to do that. We have sent over 40,000 lecturers abroad for postgraduate studies and we are also putting up modern facilities and structures in place in these institutions. I am really happy with the step taken by the management of UNILAG in organising this event, it is a step in the right direction,” he stated.

Over 20 u universities from the United States, the UK, South Africa, Scotland, Ghana are taking part in the week-long event.

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