Osinbajo Tasks Military to Partner Private Sector on Research, Innovation

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, has advised the Nigerian Armed Forces to partner with the private sector on research and innovation.

Mr Osinbajo gave this charge at the weekend during the combined passing out parade for cadets of 64 Regular Course (Army, Navy, Air Force) 65 Regular Course (Navy and Air Force) and Short Service Course 44 (Army) where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Vice President said crimes in the world have taken new turns and security operatives have to always be a step ahead of criminals, especially terrorists.

He said last week’s bombing in a London tube suggest that tutorials for making the explosive devices used are available on the internet.

“How can the military get ahead of the curve on communications in the age of the fast, cheap and available communication for all?” he asked, pointing out that, “We must also answer the question of how to defeat the ideologies that promote mindless killings and anarchy.”

He further said the swift evolution in suicide bombings is a perfect illustration of the nature of the threats that nations face today, unpredictable, asymmetric, constantly adapting to changing conditions, driven by a compulsive need to inflict maximum damage with minimal effort.

According to him, “This is therefore the question we ought to be asking ourselves: Are our Armed Forces evolving with a similar speed and urgency, are they adapting with a similar nimbleness? How do we evolve rules of engagement in asymmetric warfare situations? Should we be redefining the borders of the Geneva Convention in the light of military engagements with armed militant combatants? Can we observe the same human rights rules where suicide bombers and persons determined to die and take with them as many innocent lives as possible are the enemy we must confront? What are the borders of the right to privacy and freedom of expression on the internet? What is the responsibility of Nations of the world in policing the internet which has become a virtual training ground for much good and as much evil?”

Mr Osinbajo said, “But just as important as these issues around conflict are the issues around how the military can in the process of innovating or thinking through use science and technology to add real value to the society and nation it has sworn to defend.”

“Let me speak briefly about the relationship between the military and scientific innovation, and how both have historically shaped and influenced each other.

“Centuries ago, inventions like the wheel, and gunpowder, forever changed the nature of war. National armies wasted little time taking advantage of these innovations in the endless battle to gain an edge over existing and emerging enemies.

“In a similar manner, the military has also spearheaded technology and practices that civilians have latched on to, to alter human civilization as we know it. The one that comes to mind most readily is the Internet, originating from the 1960s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) Project of the United States Department of Defense.

“Five decades on, the Internet has turned out to be perhaps the most definitive invention in the history of mankind, creating unprecedented social, economic and political opportunity. The American military has also been credited with the invention of GPS- Global Positioning System (GPS) now so common that every smartphone and cars use it to ascertain location.

“But this network of satellites was originally set up by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s. President Ronald Reagan ordered GPS to be made available to civilians once it was completed, while President Bill Clinton later declared that the highest quality GPS signal should be available as well.

“How about RADAR? (an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging,) this system uses radio waves to find speed, altitude, range, and direction of moving objects such as planes, ground vehicles, missiles, etc. Radar was developed before World War II for military purposes.

“Today, it’s used for a variety of purposes, both military and civilian, including air traffic control and weather forecasting. Inadvertently, it was discovered that microwaves transmitted from radar equipment during WWII could also cook food, which led to the post-war creation of the microwave oven.

“The use of Unmanned Aerial devices or drones today for surveillance, photography (and in Rwanda), the delivery of blood to rural medical facilities originated from the development of the devices by the military in the early 20th Century.

“The world I have just described is the one that today’s cadets are graduating into. Placed side-by-side with this contemporary context, the Cold War Era into which your predecessors – today’s Generals and Commanding Officers – graduated, almost feels like a model of orderliness and predictability.

“At this point let me say that I am pleased to note that the NDA has been positioning itself as a hub for innovation. I am already aware of inventions such as an Automated Pop-Up Target System, a Multi-Purpose Combat Mobile Robot, and a Perimeter Surveillance Robot, which the NDA has showcased at various science and technology exhibitions in the recent past. This is laudable and I urge you to sustain the culture.

“I would also like to urge you to collaborate more extensively with the private sector, for research and innovation. All around the country technology hubs are springing up that are attracting our Nigeria’s brightest talent, and breaking new technological ground. I am convinced that the military should make its presence felt in this area,” the Vice President said.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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