Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to partner in rejuvenating the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan.
Speaking at the institute’s headquarters on the occasion of its 45th anniversary, Obasanjo said it was natural that the tools used by IITA in the last 45 years would be obsolete.
“Unless IITA rejuvenates and updates its tools for research as well as move along with the times, it will remain static and become irrelevant 15 to 20 years from now, ” the elder statesman said.
Obasanjo, who is also IITA’s Ambassador for Africa, praised the Ford Foundation for leading others in the vision to establish the institute as a first class agricultural outfit for the continent.
He, however, advised Nigeria and other African countries not to expect a bailout of IITA again by the foundation after 45 years.
Obasanjo said Africa was lucky to have an institution like IITA on the continent, adding that it was capable of creating wealth and generating employment for the present and future generations.
He urged African governments, agricultural investors and other stakeholders to invest in IITA to make it work optimally.
Earlier, the Director-General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, said the institute could become a failure if the tools presently being used were not upgraded.
He said the tools presently being used in the institute were “for today and not for tomorrow. ”
Sanginga said as the host country of IITA, Nigeria had a big role to play by leading other African countries in investing in the institute and providing food security for Africa.
The Director – General also expressed the belief that providing the continent with food through IITA was a powerful credential for Nigeria.
This credential, he added, would give Nigeria an edge over rival African countries in its bid to secure a seat on the Security Council.
Sanginga urged Obasanjo and other stakeholders present at the forum tagged, “Rejuvenating IITA,” to help convince the Federal Government in investing in the institute’s future.
Among dignitaries at the occasion were the Rwandan High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr Joseph Habinezer, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, as well as representatives of the CBN, Access Bank, Dangote Industries and Honeywell Flour Mills.