Afe Babalola Emerges pioneer Chairman ,BOT National Artificial Intelligence Body

                        By: Tunde Olofintila
The Founder & Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, has been appointed the pioneer Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the National Association of Artificial Intelligence Practitioners (NAAIP).
The other members of the NAAIP’s BOT are former NUC Executive Secretary and the brain behind the formation of the Association, Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola, Prof. Rukayat Ahmed Rufai, Prof. Suleiman Ambali, Prof. Anayo Ugochukwu and Chief Chucks Igwillo, SAN
The cheering news was contained in a letter dated June 13, 2024, and delivered to Babalola, an Artificial Intelligent enthusiast, by a four-man team led by the NAAIP President and the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede.
Others in the team were ABUAD Vice Chancellor who is also the NAAIP Vice President (South-West), Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, NAAIP Secretary-General, Dr. Kehinde Abiola and Prof. Albert Abegunde, the Chaiorman of TETFUND Technical Advisory Group, Abuja.
Ogunbodede predicated Babalola’s appointment to the high office on his (Babalola’s) “revolutionary efforts in transforming tertiary education in Nigeria and your keen interest in Artificial Intelligence and other progressive, forward-thinking developments in education and the general society”.
Ogunbodede, the NAAIP boss, commended Babalola for his immeasurable contributions to the institutionalization of quality and functional education since his seven-year stint as the Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos during which, with the cooperation of his colleagues in the Council and the University Management, he was able to record the following ground-breaking achievements:
Upgrading the profile of the university,
Eradication of cultism on the campus
Ensuring stable and predictable Academic Calendar
Turning the university around by ensuring accountability,
Using his own resources, goodwill and connections to develop the University
He was twice voted the Best Pro Chancellor of Nigerian Universities,
H was voted the Chairman of all Pro Chancellors of Nigerian Universities
UNILAG was voted Number 1 University in Nigeria, and
Its Vice Chancellor then, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, was voted the Best Vice Chancellor.
He reformed the admission process into Nigerian Universities by introducing the Post-UTME when it was noticed that many of the students admitted into Nigerian universities through JAMB were not only academically deficient, but they could not justify the high marks scored in JAMB Examinations which they procured at some Examination Centres, mischievously christened “miracle centres”.
The introduction of the Post-UTME, the quantum of students who were asked to withdraw because they could neither defend the high scores they were parading nor cope academically upon admission, dropped considerably.
He initiated an Endowment Fund Scheme in University of Lagos which he encouraged well-to-do members of the society to contribute to. The annual income from capital investment of donation is being used to award scholarships to students in the University of Lagos.  500 scholarships were awarded in February 2006 alone.
He introduced different Awards to different categories of Students, Teachers and Non-academic staff,
He established income-generating Units to support the finances of the University,
He built new Hostels through Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) system,
He ensured an enabling and conducive Academic environment in UNILAG.
He introduced the Parents and Teachers Association which enhanced discipline among the students of the University.
He also reclaimed the University land encroached upon by land grabbers back to the University.
Zeroing in on Babalola’s achievements inn his 15-year-old university, Ogunbodede said with what ABUAD has achieved which has resulted in its carting home several Awards and accolades from national and international education stakeholders, including being ranked Number One University in Nigeria for three consecutive years and Number 200 globally by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, the future of education in Nigeria is in private universities.
In his response, Babalola, who has written many articles on Artificial Intelligence in his weekly columns in the Nigerian Tribune and The Vanguard, lavished praises for Okebukola, the brain behind the formation of NAAIP and the promoter of the Virtual Institute for Capacity Building in Higher Education (VICBHE), for his altruistic and immeasurable contributions towards the institutionalization of quality and functional education in the country. He also thanked the NAAIP leadership for appointing him as its pioneer BOT Chairman and for coming personally to deliver the letter to him in Ado-Ekiti.
His words: “I appreciate you and the totality of NAAIP for appointing me as your pioneer BOT Chairman. I appreciate you the more for coming all the way to Ado-Ekiti to deliver the letter of appointment. Your coming to deliver the letter to me is a demonstration of the love and respect you have for me for which I am very grateful”.
“You have demonstrated leadership and your belief in serving others. If we all make up our minds to work hard and serve and not necessarily for what we can benefit therefrom, this country will develop and rapidly too.
“It is a notorious fact that this country is blessed in all ramifications. This is a country that is not too hot or too cold. This is a country where the rain falls for at least eight months in a year. With all these advantages, we should not find it difficult to produce what we can eat and export the excess.
“Besides, we have people with brains, yet we are not moving forward because we don’t appreciate what we have. We are in a society that has lost its vision. This is the problem. We must retrace our steps and stop being interested in self-aggrandizement which will not help us. I am prepared to work with NAAIP towards the realization of its aims and objectives”.
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.
The ultimate aims of the Association are the advancement of Artificial Intelligence practices with the use of computers, machines or any other devices capable of providing services that mimic or perform tasks that are ordinarily done by human beings. In addition, NAAIP shall seek to confer competence, advantages and privileges, impose necessary responsibilities on it members and encourage them to promote ethics of AI practices which is important for AI practitioners and the public.
The objectives of the not-for-profit Association include the following:
Promoting education and training in the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence practices
Actively encouraging research in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence practices
Disseminating key research findings and policies relevant to the practice of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria and globally.
Promoting the interchange of information about the practices of Artificial Intelligence nationally and internationally.
Developing the competence of members and encouragement of integrity in Artificial Intelligence practices, and upholding the ethics of AI.
Advising members, governments, other competent authorities and the public, on national  and international policy matters affecting Artificial Intelligence practices
Contributing to the formulation of polices, and the development and assessment of educational and training curricula relating to Artificial Intelligence.
Building global affiliations and cooperating with similar professional organizations throughout the world, and receiving, rendering or reciprocating such services as are beneficial to and consistent with the objectives of the Association.
Acting as the sole representative of members of the Association in all negotiations and consultations with the Federal, State and Local governments and their agencies on matters of policy affecting the conduct and practice of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria.
Advancing the interests of gender, the handicapped and other disadvantaged groups as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in relation to Artificial Intelligence Pratices
Collaborating with relevant governments, institutions and organizations in proffering solutions to the issues of negative, unethical and criminal uses of Artificial Intelligence tools.
Promoting and protecting the interests of members of NAAIP.
Undertaking any other duties incidental to the purpose of achieving the above stated objectives of the Association.
Apart from Ogunbodede, Olarinde and Abiola, the other Executive Officers are 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), Professor Jonathan Tsetimi (Vice President South-South), Professor Aleruchi Chuku (Assistant General Secretary) and Professor Khadijat Adenola Yahaya (Treasurer) as well as Professor Nkechinyere Nwokoye (Publicity Secretary).
Olofintila, ABUAD’s Director of Corporate Affairs, writes from Ado-Ekiti

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