Recently, the heads of the former Federal Ministry of Science and Technology launched the change of name adding ‘Innovation’ to it so as to advance indigenous technology to compete internationally thereby developing Nigeria’s economy. BINTA SHAMA reports.
Man and technology
It is commonly said that since inception, man and technology work hand in hand seeing how the world revolves around advanced science, technology and innovation (STI). It is no longer news that innovation touches every aspect of the economy, from education, health, banking, agriculture, communication, power, information, gas, engineering, security, to what have you. It is with this fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria is fighting judiciously to see that stakeholders focus on anything science as long as it has a positive view attached to it.
Since assumption of office, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, alongside his colleague the Minister of State, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi is determined to improve and encourage indigenous innovators and research work in order to contribute to the development of the nation using Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
Dr. Onu said the change would reposition the ministry to drive the innovation agenda and catalyse Nigeria’s economic growth. “The benefits of the name change and repositioning of the ministry will include irreversible indigenous industrialisation, platform for higher productivity, job creation and quality employment generation in the economy, significant level of poverty alleviation.”
Working to make scientific change
While declaring open the 19th National Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (NCSTI) with the theme: “Investment in Research and Development: A Necessary Tool To Improving Nigerian Economy”, the Minister said that the Federal Government will continue to support the development of key and groundbreaking scientific innovations through policies and ensuring harmony of research efforts from different Research Institutions.
According to him that, efforts are being made to review the current Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy to accommodate and meet the needs of the 21st century and proffer solutions to teeming challenges facing Nigeria today.
Nigeria he said, is determined to be a major global player in space technology, and that Nigeria is the first sub-Saharan African country to launch and develop space technology.
The annual council which is the highest decision making body on science policies in Nigeria, he further said will help accelerate economic development and give the country a global competitiveness advantage.
Onu further said that research institutes and agencies under the Ministry will continue to develop innovations to help the agriculture industry. He added that farmers would be able to achieve more agricultural yield and reduce post-harvest losses.
Balance of trade
He stressed on the need for the country to be self-reliant, patronise indigenous goods and services, and encourage export and achieve a favourable balance of trade. A good balance of trade he added, will improve the overall socio-economic fortunes of Nigerians.
On youth empowerment, the FMSTI boss urged youths to embark on new business start-ups, because all large industries today started as SME’s.
Earlier in a goodwill message, the deputy chairman of the House committee on Science and Research Institutions, Hon. Jafaru Mohammed, said that more efforts would be put into scientific innovations and appreciated the synergy among the scientific ecosystem in Nigeria.
On behalf of the diplomatic corps, the Ambassador of Venezuela to Nigeria, His Excellency David Nieves Velásquez Caraballo, said that the development of STI in Nigeria is a positive development and pledged that his country will continue to work closely with Nigeria for mutual benefits in many areas including STI.
Nigeria to provide veritable statistics on STI progress
While giving his welcome address at the just concluded 19th Meeting of the NCSTI, the Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi charged Scientists, Researchers and Innovators to rise up and provide verifiable statistics of the various progress made so far by Nigerians in STI
According to the Minister, despite gains made in the past years, Nigeria still remains low in ranking of the global innovation index, 2021, this he added is as a result of lack of data activities in the Innovation Space.
He further stated that Nigerians have made giant strides in Inventions and Innovations but are not adequately captured as data from relevant Institutions do not meet up with the challenges.
Barrister Abdullahi further said that one of the major challenges facing Science, Technology and Innovation Sector in developing countries like Nigeria is funding, and that government needs to invest heavily in R&D to spur industrialization and improve the livelihood of Nigerians.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwolu who was represented by Mr. Hakeem Fahm, the Commissioner for Science, Technology and Innovation Lagos State said that funding of research and development has to be sustained in order to boost STI.
He further appreciated the Leadership of the FMSTI for setting the standards and also recognizing that nation has to invest in research.
In a similar event to support the growth of technology in Nigeria, Barr. Abdullahi said that the Executive Order 5 will help the development of indigenous financial technology services (FINTECH), which will help reduce capital/intellectual flight and improve Nigeria’s socio-economic fortunes, when he received the chairman of the committee of e-Business Industry Heads, Mr. Adeyemi Atanda in his office recently.
The committee is said to be an advocacy group that contributes to the growth, stability and sustainability of the payment systems of Nigeria.
He said the Ministry will support the development of financial systems in a transparent and inclusive manner.
Further adding that, an elaborate and elastic policy framework would be developed to accommodate FINTECH development in Nigeria.
In response, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Adeyemi Atanda said the committee seeks to work closely, share thoughts and look for ways to develop an inclusive roadmap on FINTECH development with the Ministry.
He further stated that capacity building in development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by infusing aspects that will help youths embrace FINTECH.
Seeking for more collaboration of private sector in STI
Similarly, the Chairman at the 19th Meeting of the NCSTI, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan calls the Organized Private Sectors (OPS) to explore ways of partnering with the various Research Institutes and Agencies in commercializing viable products and services for the nations benefit.
The Permanent Secretary said that the Ministry was working tirelessly towards the reduction and elimination of the current high level of stand-alone research efforts scattered all over the country, especially those tied to national priorities.
He said the council, is a veritable platform to ensure that all relevant stakeholders in the STI sector are fully integrated and involved in the development and deployment of STIin addressing national issues.
The Permanent Secretary further affirmed that STI constitutes the engine of socio-economic advancement of any nation, adding that there is a need for closer collaboration among the three tiers of government.
Material compiled by: Mrs. Ademu Josephine, Mr. Otuyemi Adetayo & Miss Maryam Zakari of FMSTI press and PR unit.