The youth are the future of every generation just as science, technology and innovation (STI) are undeniably the key main drivers of rapid industrialisation and development. It therefore follows that engaging the youth in STI is a sure way of ensuring rapid socio-economic growth of any nation.
To encourage the youth to develop interest in STI, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology organised a competition in all the 774 local government areas of the country.
Addressing students at the annual final national examination for the 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (YONSPA) held in Abuja, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, urged secondary school students across the nation to develop interest in science-inclined subjects in order to boost science, technology and innovation development.
He commended the 37 best students who were selected from a competition organised in the 774 LGAs across the country to represent the 36 states of the country including the FCT, saying the examination would encourage youths develop interest in STI. He urged the participants to do their best for themselves, the schools and states they represent, adding the best three students would be part of the country’s delegation to an international olympiad later in the year and would be recognised at the technology and innovation exposition holding also later in the year.
The minister also invited the participants to the upcoming Technology and Innovation Expo being organised by the ministry in April, saying he would formally present awards to the top three winners.
Earlier, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mrs Belema Wakama, who welcomed the students for the examination told them the criteria for grading them would be fair.
She noted that the country had renowned scientists working in different parts of the world, adding that the students should endeavour to be enlisted among such experts.
In his remarks, the director of science and technology promotion in the ministry, Mr Ekanem Udoh, said the essence of the competition was to encourage youths to participate in science, technology and innovation, pointing out that the students came from all states of the federation to participate in the competition.
“The essence is to see to what extent we can allow our youths to buy into the science and technology programmes of this country and indeed the world,” he said.
A student representing Delta State, Master Immaculate Akele said the competition was a breeding ground to pull out young innovators in the society.
According to him, the innovations by the young scientists will help develop the country’s economy.
Lagos, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kebbi and Rivers were some of the states absent from the competition.
Meanwhile speaking on the upcoming 2017 technology and innovation expo to commercialise research and development (R&D) in the country, the minister said it aimed to strengthen local production of goods and services.
Also in his speech during the meeting of 2017 inter-ministerial planning committee for the Technology and Innovation Expo 2017, scheduled to hold from April 3 to April 7, 2017, Onu said the ministry had finalised arrangements to organise technology and innovation expo to commercialise research and development in the country.
He said the aim of commercialising inventions and innovations of Nigerians was to strengthen local production of goods and services.
“This is in pursuant of its mandate of deploying science, technology, and innovation (STI) to provide employment, alleviate poverty, and contribute to economic diversification.
“Hence, the theme for the expo will be `Science, Technology and Innovation for Nigeria’s Economic Diversification’,” he said.
The minister said there would be exhibition of research results, inventions and innovations as well as products and services of made in Nigeria hinged on STI.
According to him, the expo will include technical sessions on renewable energy, space technology, research and industrial linkages, adding the event would contribute to the administration’s drive for made in Nigeria goods.
He added that the event would make Nigerians to be aware of national capabilities in producing the goods and services citizens required.
“Which will eventually reduce poverty, reduce importation and strengthen our currency,” he added.
According to him, the participants will be drawn from all universities, polytechnics, research institutes, industrial research, laboratories, inventors and innovations, the military, STI entrepreneurs in the formal and informal sectors.
“Also, selected Nigerian innovators in the Diaspora among others have been invited to participate at the expo which is first of its kind in Nigeria,’’ he added.