Science and Technology has been identified across board as a major instrument that drives national development. Many sectors of a nation’s economy rely heavily on science and technology for effective, efficient productivity.
At the 34th annual conference/scientific workshop of the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT) with the theme ‘Science and technology: A competitive edge for national economic development’ in Osun State, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu said the systemic utilization and application of science and technology has improved the living standards of human beings and made life better as science and technology cuts across all sectors of the economy.
Represented by the director, quality assurance, Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Lagos, Dr. Kwaptoe Edwards, the minister restated the federal government’s commitment in deploying science and technology for the ongoing diversification of the economy.
He said: “Science and technology has changed the face of the world. This underscores why many countries all over the world have embraced science and technology as a road map for national development and all hands must be on deck to ensure this country can also benefit from the array of developmental opportunities given by the sector.’’
He described the theme of the workshop as timely and relevant in view of the current efforts of government to diversify the economy from the future shocks arising from the decline of oil in the international market including its scientific advances and technological changes which are important drivers of recent economic performance.
Onu commended the institute for the services it is rendering to the country and observed that NISLT has established itself as a reputable parastatal, set for distinction and excellence in its activities. He pledged government’s support to ensure the institute achieve its mandate.
In his address, NISLT council chairman, Mr. Charles Obaseki said each time experts in the field of science laboratory technology gather, it tells about it strength to contribute to national development, noting “without the laboratory there cannot be development anywhere in the world’’.
He pledged that the council would pursue technological development as a multi-dimensional concept that would encompass the economic, social, institutional and physical elements of development.
Obaseki who informed the gathering that 71 scientific papers would be presented by experts during the scientific sessions in different subject areas of science and technology described President Muhammadu Buhari as the first in the history of the country to make science and technology a priority, adding “the interest of the government is to drive the Nigerian economy through science and technology to develop this country’’.
In his remarks, the rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Dr. John Adekolawole, lauded the minister and NISLT for their consistent focus on current development in science and technology towards achieving Vision 20:2020.
He counseled that in order to build a productive future for Nigeria, the country must draw on the knowledge and capacity of scientists/engineers as a matter of national priority.
“Only by drawing the expertise, creativity and knowledge of all our disciplines will we be able to meet the challenges we face now and, in the future, to secure a prosperous future for all,” Adekolawole added.
He asked the federal government to challenge professors and chief engineers in tertiary institutions on issues confronting the nation such as power, housing, health, water, waste and road, assemble them in one place and task them to find solutions to the problems.
The director-general of NISLT, Dr. Gbadegesin Hezekiah said the annual conference was an opportunity for experts in science laboratory to rub minds and address issues confronting the profession. He revealed that recently, NISLT council approved new strategic plans and came up with a law on how to chase out quacks in the industry and the use of registered members to monitor outputs in laboratories nationwide.
He disclosed that NISLT officials, not long ago, shut down substandard laboratories and arrested the operators and stressed that the action would continue until quacks are weeed out of the industry.
“Quacks are in every profession. NISLT is moving out to get rid of them. Our officials recently discovered a man in Lagos operating a fake laboratory and arrested him,” he added.
The NILEST boss acknowledged the dearth of science laboratories in secondary schools nationwide and appealed to federal and state government to provide funds for the acquisition of new modern laboratories to enable students carry out experiments.