By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja
The importance of science and technology development in the development of nations cannot be over-emphasised. Indeed, science and technology has been identified as the key driver for the national and socio-economic development of any nation because of its cross cutting impact. The utilisation of science in development cuts across every other sector that drives the national or socio-economic development of any nation. Countries like Korea, China, Germany and many others currently seen as some of the most developed in the world were able to attain rapid industrialisation riding on the wings of science and technology.
The dip in the price of crude oil and its resultant catastrophic effect on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product has driven the Federal Government to explore other ways of boosting the nation’s economy. This development accounts for the interest in developing the science and technology roadmap to drive development in the sector and also trigger a simultaneous chain reaction in the sectorial development of other sectors like agriculture, health, ICT, banking and finance, tourism and the others.
During a tour of the South Eastern zone of the country to flag-off, inspect and unveil projects developed by his ministry, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu emphasised the strategic role of science and technology in sectorial development.
The minister who paid a courtesy call on the governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, at the Government House in Owerri said one of the 17 agencies under his ministry, the National Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST) had been carrying out research and innovation in leather works and that plans were underway to establish leather institutions across the six geo-political zones in the country with the southeast zone institute to be established in Okputo, Imo State.
He said the institute in Imo State would help the youths acquire entrepreneurial skills to start small and medium scale enterprises as well as develop skills transfer, which would be beneficial to others.
The tour, he pointed out, was to inspect projects developed by the ministry as well as flag-off the waste to wealth pilot project domiciled in Umuahia, Abia State.
In his response, Governor Okorocha eulogised the minister on the transformation drive he is carrying out in the science and technology sector in Nigeria.
He called on Nigerians to embrace science and technology as it has become a lifeline for all sectors to key into for our national economic development. He advised the minister to set up a science and technology department that would be constitutionally recognised by the National Assembly and which would have a lifespan of 20 years stretch that would not be affected by any democratic process or political party interference.
Okorocha further stated that through the developmental drive in the sector, Nigerians would see and enjoy the beauty of science and technology, which is key to sustainable economic development plan of the current administration.
The minister inspected the Asumpta Science Centre’s chemistry laboratory in Orodo, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state, an ongoing project of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Vatican, Rome.
The project, according to him, is built with a view to encouraging the youths in the community and the state to develop interest in science-related subjects and mathematics in order to boost economic development in the country.
Onu expressed delight on the level of work going on at the project site and encouraged the engineers to ensure that the project is completed in a few months’ time.
In a related development, the minister unveiled the National Science, Technology and Innovation Road Map (NSTIR) 2017- 2030 to staff of the ministry in the South East zone at the Technology Incubation Centre (TIC) Naze, Owerri Imo State.
In an interactive session with the staff, he described the Integrated Road Map as a unique piece formulated to redirect the energy of our nation.
He highlighted the importance of the road map to staff in order for them to understand the vision, goals and timelines given for work schedules in the ministry.
He said the integrated road map when incorporated into the system would serve as a catalyst to Nigeria’s economic growth and develop competiveness in raw materials endowed in Nigeria, which in turn would provide jobs, create wealth and reduce poverty drastically.
The minister also said the aim of the formulation of the document was to encourage the youth not only to develop interest in mathematics and science subjects but also to reduce our level of over dependence on imported and foreign goods and services in Nigeria.
He said the road map was designed in such a way that it would span a period of short-term, medium-term and long-term with a view to attaining an effective implementation of projects in the country.
A statement by the ministry’s assistant chief information officer, Henrietta Okokon, said the minister further disclosed that, the road map targets the mobilization of Nigeria’s intellectual resources for the growth and diversification of the economy, provision of incentives for all stakeholders to embrace and engage in science and technology innovation in order to improve science structures, intensify and develop skills, deploy and commercialize technologies and improve science literacy engagement processes in Nigeria.