The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved a national strategy for promoting competitiveness in raw materials and products development in the country. Conceived by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to harness Nigeria’s potentials in research and development institutions, the strategy is one of the novel programmes initiated by the ministry to effectively utilise science, technology and innovation in the country’s development process.
It is designed as a roadmap that will enable the country attain sustainable socio-economic growth and development. FEC also approved the new policy guidelines for the planning and execution of programmes, projects and contracts with science, engineering and technology components.
The policy thrust is expected to facilitate the nation’s aspiration aimed at attaining global competitiveness in industrial production as well as in services. Already, a committee, known as National Consultative Committee, has been inaugurated with a mandate to fast track the actualisation of a synergy among Nigerian scientists and entrepreneurs to produce raw materials and products that will enhance competitiveness in raw materials and product development in the country. The minister, at the inauguration, expressed his optimism that the strategy will also give a boost to local and international confidence in Made-in-Nigeria products and services.
The minister listed the unique features of the home-grown national strategy to include the corresponding charting, mapping and linking of several research, development institutions, industries and Businesses and Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) in line with prioritized and sequenced projects of intervention along stratified United Nations Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) scheme.
The strategy when fully operational will emphasise the globally-accepted result-based management logical frameworks (RMLF) for the implementation of all projects and programmes. This will be in line with the current change mantra of the federal government that stresses zero tolerance for corruption as well as the desire for prudence and frugality in management of public funds.
Other unique features of the strategy include forging partnerships among research and development institutions with industries, businesses and entrepreneurs towards providing solid and quality national infrastructure. It also aims at ensuring coordinated mapping of some 100 Nigerian raw materials and products on the United Nations harmonized classification scheme map, alignment of the nation’s research and development institutions with industrial sectors of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) as well as a corresponding charting and linking of several Ministries, Departments and Agencies with the organized private sector in line with the United Nations Standard International Trade Classification scheme.
We note that this initiative is one that will help the nation achieve competitiveness tailored towards reducing importation, encouraging local content and diversifying the revenue base of the country.
It is pertinent, in our opinion, to refer to what obtains globally, especially in countries that pay sufficient attention to scientific research development and innovation. The result of such plan of action is that those nations have emerged as great economic and scientific powers. From that pedestal, they have been able to sustain their independence, develop their economy, protect their environment and guarantee the security and happiness of their citizens.
In our view, these new policies initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology wouldn’t have come at a better time than this when, particularly with the recession, Nigeria is grappling with the challenges of business failures and closures, high unemployment and inflationary pressures. The country is also plagued with depleted foreign exchange earnings and reserves, drastic devaluation of the national currency, huge arrears of workers’ salaries and pension, among others.
We are persuaded to posit that Nigeria has reached the stage in its nationhood where it cannot continue to be import dependent. Most countries that have attained development did so by importing only strategic raw materials they need to support their local production of goods and services. And we dare to say that time has come for Nigeria to join the league of those nations.
It is on the basis of this that we commend the visionary and focused leadership of the minister for setting out on this giant stride that has attracted the strategic guidance, personal commitment and unflinching support of President Muhammadu Buhari.
We are convinced that the federal government, under the present administration, will ensure that adequate funds are made available to the ministry to enable it implement the strategy. We strongly believe that successful implementation of the strategy would be far-reaching and beneficial to Nigeria as it will enhance alliance among Nigerian scientists and entrepreneurs, industries and businesses just as it will help accelerate and re-direct the pathway to recovery and growth of the economy.