The Africa Robotics Challenge (ARC) holding in South Africa will go ahead without Nigeria’s participation.
This is because six Nigerian students scheduled to take part in the Sept. 28 have cancelled their trip to the country due to fears of xenophobic attacks.
The students blamed the organisers for failing to guarantee their safety throughout the duration of the competition.
The students are: Tirenioluwa Shobande, 18, a 100 level Systems Engineering student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG); Ifeoluwa Aigbiniode, 15, of Yaba College of Technology Secondary School, and Jeffrey Nwafor, 15, of S-TEE International School.
Others are 19-year-old Kolawole Olatunji, a 100 level Computer Science Education student of Lagos State University (LASU), Toluwanimi Akinola, 15, Dansol High School and Aromolaran Dominion, 14, Supreme Education Foundation.
The national Coordinator, Remi Willoughby, said that the organisers had informed her of their inability to provide adequate security and guarantee the safety of the students while in South Africa.
“This competition we are supposed to go for is Africa Robotics Challenge, it is a product of first Robotics Challenge which we have been going for in the last few years.
“We planned to go to South Africa for this robotics competition which is basically supposed to be for few African countries and would have held on Sept. 28.
“However, we will not be attending because of the situation in South Africa currently.
“And the fact that I cannot personally guarantee the safety of the students while there, and with our host telling us that even if we come, it will not be announced.
“That we have to come quietly and we will not wear our Nigeria T-shirts and that the bus that will convey us will not display our logo of Green, White, Green, so how can we proudly showcase our country?”
She also said there is the need to support fellow Nigerians who have not been treated fairly in South Africa, adding that attending the competition would also be like betrayal of trust.
One of the students, Aigbiniode expressed disappointment over the situation, saying they had worked hard for the competition.
She, however, said it was not all disappointing moments “because we learnt the process of building and developing a robot.”
She said that the competition was basically on First Tech Challenge and on Space Mission .
For Tirenioluwa, Robotics is like any other game or competition that brings people together no matter the race or tribe.
“I see robotics going very far not only in the aspect of being a game but helping different countries to solve issues and develop technology.
“It is a great era for us to expand to prove to the world that African countries have advanced in technology, ” he said.