The world is gradually tilting from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy where dependence is moving away from natural resources in the modern era.
The minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, in his remarks at the 2018 end of year dinner in Abuja, said the possession of commodities alone could not make a country truly great, as commodities overtime lose some of their value, citing the case of Nigeria where sugar and cocoa thrived at a time and later declined.
“Make no mistake about it, crude oil will someday not have the value presently attributed to it in the global economy. I believe that Nigeria can chart a new direction by beginning early to prepare for the challenges of the inevitable global post crude oil era. The way to go is science and technology.
“I see strong hope that science, technology and innovation is the route Nigeria should follow in her match from developing nation to technologically developed one and from a third world to a first world nation. I say so because we can use science, technology and innovation to create wealth, create jobs, defeat poverty, reclaim our national pride and restore strong hope that Nigeria is indeed a truly great nation and giant of Africa,” he said.
He pointed out that the signing of the Presidential Executive Order 005 had opened opportunities for Nigerian professionals such that in no distant time the nation could arrest capital flight, strengthen its local capacity and promote local manpower development for its good and people.
The minister, therefore, stressed the need for the utilization of STI to advance new frontiers of knowledge by deploying resources to commercialise research findings, new products and services that would create jobs, reduce extreme poverty, improve the quality of lives of the people and also help build a strong and resilient domestic economy that is competitive and sustainable.
Listing some of his ministry’s achievements in 2018, he said the number of patents secured with the assistance of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), a parastatal under the ministry, rose to 54 as against 6 recorded in 2015.
Also, he said the ministry had formulated a high density biscuit for children; initiated a landmark novel national strategy for competitiveness in raw materials and products development in the country, a project he said could save the nation N3.6 trillion from overall imports and create over 4.4 million jobs.
He equally pointed to remarkable progress made on the local production of solar powered electronic voting solution with cloud-based collection of electronic results capability to help enhance e-voting for free, fair and credible elections; successful deployment of genetic engineering techniques in the production of two varieties of Bt cotton to increase cotton production in the country as well as the reactivation of textile industries in Nigeria and formulation of Nigeria’s new national policy on leather products to fast-track sustainable development of leather technology among others.
Meanwhile, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos has clinched the first position in the competitiveness assessment competition amongst the 17 parastatals under the ministry to determine their capacity to use science and technology to drive the future greatness of the country.
The competition saw the National Agency for Science and Engineering Technology Infrastructure (NASENI) take up the second position while the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) came third.
The winners got monetary incentives of N1 billion, N750 million and N500 million respectively to promote more research in their various agencies.
The minister made this known at the last consultative meeting of the directors-general of parastatals under the ministry in Abuja, saying the appropriate award had been given to the winners, urging them not to be weary of the journey of deploying science and technology to drive national development but to continue to draw strength from the course for the sake of posterity.
“I know that only the best can help us build a new Nigerian civilization that will take the gains of our efforts to the next level. I know that only the best among our agencies can ensure that innovation moves beyond the mere number of patents to finding them as products in our markets. I know that only the best can help us ensure that the Presidential Executive Order No 5 becomes the key driver in Nigeria’s effort to promote local content and entrench the new Nigerian dream of self-reliance and self-sufficiency,” he added.
In his remarks, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Bitrus Bako, told the directors-general: “It is expected that in the new year, we would further have a robust relationship as we aim to reposition the country from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy one driven by innovation. Let me encourage you to show more commitment and dedication to service delivery in the execution of your mandates in the new year.”
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