A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has allayed the fears of Nigerians who thought robots might soon take over their jobs, given how robots now perform certain jobs in some advanced countries.
He noted that robotics education would not in any way escalate unemployment rate in Nigeria, rather, he argued that more jobs would be created if robotics education was well planned and embraced.
Obasanjo spoke on Friday in his opening remark at the robotics workshop jointly organised by the Public Affairs section of the United States Consulate General, Lagos and RoboRAVE International, a US-based robotics education academy.
He said though Nigeria “is still far behind in terms of general education,” the introduction of robotics education to pupils and students was commendable.
He urged the schools and pupils that are beneficiaries of the initiative to embrace robotics education in order to close the gap in technological and scientific education obtainable in developed nations.
He said, “Here, we have the problem of unemployment and people would say we need to create mass employment opportunities for our people. Many believe if you start introducing robotics education then you will deny people employment opportunities. It is not so. What will normally happen is that there would be jobs that would emanate from robotics. The jobs would compensate what robotics will take over.
“We have seen that through history. When the train came, people thought there would be no way for road transportation. People also thought when aeroplanes came that railways and cars would not be useful. But, today roads are being constructed and we have not even done enough. Yet, airports are being built and enlarged.”
He urged the pupils to take advantage of the robotics education to better their future.
The United States Consul General in Lagos, John Bray, said robotics education would help the country in providing global partnerships and economic development, adding that about 200 Nigerian students were undergoing training on robotics in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
He said the training was the first in Sub-Saharan Africa and that 60 robots would be donated free of charge to the participating schools. He added that the training would motivate them to pursue disciplines in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which he said many developed countries based their continued economic growth on.
Bray said the consulate would continue to support education, adding that, “This is the beginning of our efforts to support robotics education in Nigeria.”
Over 300 pupils from schools across five states attended the event.