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Former Minister Pantami Criticizes Relaunch of Nigeria’s AI and Robotics Center by Successor

In a recent development that highlights a brewing controversy in Nigeria’s tech governance, former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, has publicly criticized his successor, Bosun Tijani, regarding the relaunch of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).

The center, which was originally established under Pantami’s tenure in November 2020, was designed to be a leading institution for research and development in the fields of AI and robotics. Its recent relaunch by Tijani, featuring a partnership with global technology giant Cisco, has been presented as a significant enhancement of the center’s capabilities and features hence Government is a continuum.

However, Pantami has taken issue with what he perceives as an attempt by the new administration to take credit for initiatives launched during his tenure. In a strongly worded social media post, he stated, “The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics was built and commissioned in November 2020, almost 4 years ago. The first of its kind in Africa. It has been very effective, and thousands of Nigerians have been trained. Legacy is achieved, not claimed.”

In response to these criticisms, Minister Tijani provided details on the upgrades made to the NCAIR, which include access to over 2500 virtual CPUs for use by the Nigeria AI Collective and a massive increase in data storage capabilities to one petabyte. Tijani highlighted that the center now features dedicated labs for state and enterprise AI research projects and can support remote connectivity for AI hubs and pods across the nation.

Further emphasizing his commitment to advancing Nigeria’s position in the global AI landscape, Tijani announced the launch of Nigeria’s first Multilingual Large Language Model, a part of a suite of policy initiatives that emerged from the Ministry’s National AI Workshop.

Tijani concluded by underlining the importance of continuing to develop and enhance the NCAIR’s capabilities to maintain its status as a premier institution for technological innovation, ensuring that it remains at the cutting edge of AI research and application.

This disagreement underscores the challenges of governance in rapidly evolving tech sectors, where continuity of policy and acknowledgment of past achievements can become contentious issues.

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