Nigerians have no business with poverty- Onu

Recently in Abuja, at a world press conference after his re-appointment the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, assured Nigerians of his full support for the federal government to eradicate poverty. BINTA SHAMA reports.

The minister with staff, Directors and DGs’ of the ministry and agencies respectively, at the world press conference recently.Photo-FMST

The mantra of the return of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is indeed ‘On the move for greater heights in the next four years.’

Silence as change engulfs the FMST

Before the minister came on board, the ministry, had a noiseless history since its inception and was sometimes merged with another ministry, then scrapped completely and later ceased to exist and at another time it was constituted with only some of its former agencies which Onu said, “it is therefore clear that in the past the nation either did not fully appreciate or understand the role of Science and Technology in nation building.”

But immediately the minister came on board (Nov 11th, 2015 despite several challenges, he was determined to succeed.

First, the minister began by creating a strong consciousness in the minds of all Nigerians that science, technology, and innovation remain the right way to follow in order to build a modern prosperous nation.

Policy implementations

In his speech to newsmen at the world press conference, he recalled how he and his team worked hard in formulating and implementing many policies such as the science, technology, and innovation roadmap 2017 to 2030; the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development; and Nigeria’s first Leather Policy which has helped him to champion the cause of moving Nigeria from a resource-based to a knowledge-based innovation-driven economy. Adding that, he used the platform to encourage young people to embrace science and technology and also stressed the importance of Science and Technology in nation-building korma using program such as Science, Technology and Innovation Expos.

“I vigorously implemented the STIP by activating NRIC with the President of the Federation as the Chairman. This Council was therefore made operational so as to ensure that science, technology and innovation was accorded its importance and rightful role in national development. I encouraged competition among the 17 agencies of the FMST. Excellence and achievements were rewarded. Also among the various categories of staff for my hard work of our discipline and achievements were rewarded. I initiated the presidential Executive order No. 5, for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts, science engineering and Technology signed on the 2nd February, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Providing power for Nigerians

Speaking further, On disclosed his intensions to enforce Agencies under his leadership to collaborate with other Ministries and stakeholders to provide electricity for Nigerians.

“Four agencies of the FMST namely: the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRII), the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI),  and the Project Development Institute (PRODA), working with the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Works and Housing, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, with the support of the private sector can through mounting of solar panels on buildings, help provide electricity to private homes, schools, hospitals, markets, petrol filling stations, etc. This will have a positive impact particularly on rural lives and livelihood, both in terms of income and overall economic activity in our rural communities with a view to improving the standard of living of the vast majority of Nigerians who reside in our rural communities.

Poverty alleviation

“It is also my intention to deploy technology to help realize Mr. President’s aspiration that 10 years from now, 100 million Nigerians will be out of poverty. This is achievable. This must be done. Nigerians should not be poor, because Nigeria has all the natural resources needed to be a rich country. I am convinced that there is no other way we can achieve prosperity in a sustainable manner that is inclusive, except by involving every Nigerian to participate actively in the utilization of science and technology for nation building. We will continue to encourage and reward Inter Agency Competition within the FMST. Also, group and individual efforts will be encouraged and allowed to blossom and be rewarded. Nigerian scientists abroad will be encouraged to return home,” he added.

In view of this, he assured Nigerians of a better life by tackling issues in every sector of the economy to boost the nation’s GDP and also create jobs for the unemployed.

“We will continue with our research on our local medicinal herbs. We can no longer continue to import from other countries medicinal herbs that are found in large quantities in the country. We will involve the private sector to efficiently exploit these huge resource. We will continue our research in finding cure for many diseases including different types of cancer, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, and the management of glaucoma. We will continue work on the research and production of vaccines.

“The creation of jobs will receive serious attention through the commercialization of research findings. I intend to encourage Nigerians to develop greater interest in Venture-Capital, through the participation of the private sector in the commercialization of research findings. This will be helpful in establishing viable Startups that will invigorate the driving of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. Though, they start small, but with good management they can grow to large enterprises. We already have good success stories through the incubation program of the National Board of Technology Incubation (NBTI). Almost all the agencies in the FMST have skill acquisition programs which assist startups. Through skill acquisition, many Nigerians have already benefited. With adequate funding, this can be very useful in job creation. This is the best way to create wealth, create jobs, and ultimately help grow the middle class. These startups are needed to stimulate growth in the economy.”

Every Nigerian is a scientist

The minister urged all Nigerians to consider themselves as scientists.

“Science, technology and innovation is about finding ways to solve problems that confronts a people. It has therefore become important for every Nigerian, to get actively involved in one form of innovation or the other. We can no longer fold our arms, stay unconcerned and say that scientists are only those either working in our laboratories or in our universities. The time has come for all of us, man and woman, boy and girl, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, to pursue his or her passion that can lead to innovative ideas on new ways of doing things in order to solve some of our various problems. These are some of the ways to achieve progress and prosperity.”

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