On the 26th day of April every year, the world commemorates the crucial role that knowledge, in the form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), plays in advancing humanity to better, more effective and sustainable ways of meeting life’s needs. The theme of this year’s World Intellectual Property Day celebration, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations agency, is Innovate For A Green Future.
As the world marks the World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD), the Friends of the Creators Foundation (FCF) has called on the Federal government to as a matter of urgency enact laws and policies to protect Intellectual Property Rights of creators to spark off a knowledge-based industrial revolution in the country.
FCF, which has consistently celebrated WIPD to promote creativity in the last two years, stated this in a press release titled “World Intellectual Property Day 2020: Nigeria Must Join The Knowledge Industry Revolution or Be Left Behind”. Adding that based on the ravaging effects of the novel coronavirus, the world will be facing a tougher time, which will mostly affect countries that depend on a single source of generating revenues.
The statement, which was signed by the Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo, also added that only a balanced and robust IPR system can give the needed support necessary for the emergence of a green economy, which is desperately needed in Nigeria.
The statement reads in part, “Even before the Coronavirus pandemic made its catastrophic advent in Wuhan, China, the world had been given fiery warning with the devastating wild fires that swept through the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and bio-diversity region, Australia, Indonesia and (annually) California in the United States. In short, 2019 was the year the earth was on fire. The Coronavirus pandemic, leading to the near-total lockdown of the world economy, gives final warning to humans to be better custodians of the earth or face extinction.
The 2020 WIPD call for innovation as a knowledge-driven solution to the lethal consequences of our unrestrained abuse of the environment couldn’t have come at a better time. FCF calls on the Nigerian government, first and foremost, and the private sector, including our universities and research institutions, to join the global technology revolution or risk leaving our country behind in the fossilized past. Even before oil prices plummeted due to very low demand in the face of the global lockdown, the world was already gearing for the shift to a green, clean and sustainable future. Nigeria cannot, now or post-Coronavirus, afford to depend on oil as “the mainstay” of the economy. And if Nigeria is to make that crucial shift, the indispensable role of IPR must also be given policy priority.
As made clear by WIPO, only a “balanced and robust” IPR system can give the support necessary to the emergence of a green economy that works in tandem with the earth’s natural sustenance systems. We call on the federal government, working with the National Assembly, to formulate policies and enact laws that would stimulate creativity and innovation while also guaranteeing the robust protection and enforcement of copyright, patent, trade mark, design rights, geographical indication or appellation of origin rights, and even plant-breeding rights.
FCF is of the view that, ultimately, even good policies and laws are not self-enforcing. They require citizens equipped with the right knowledge and motivated by a desire for change to realise their goals and objectives. The critical juncture where the world finds itself now prescribes a radical reassessment of priorities. For us in Nigeria, this requires a radical increase in the investment in education — which also demands the physical and curriculum rehabilitation of our educational institutions and retraining of the teaching staff (in some instances, even in the universities), at all levels. In short, FCF demands that starting from 2021, education must have the highest budgetary allocation.
For the past two years since its incorporation in 2017, Friends of the Creator (Artistic) Foundation (FCF), has marked WIPD — in Warri (2018) and Lagos last year.
In deference to the social distancing imperative and the subsequent lockdown of cities and countries in a bid to slow down the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, WIPO has opted for virtual celebration, rather than physical gatherings in this year’s celebration.