Since assumption of office, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has always carried every sector working with him along to contribute to the development of the nation using Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). BINTA SHAMA reports.
It has become a yearly ritual now in Nigeria, as the federal government through the Ministry of Science and Technology expo shares a period in which many talented Nigerians whether individual, group, private or public are given opportunities to show-case their inventions.
STI expo contributions to national devt
The major aim of the science and technology exposition is said to aim at contributing to the development of national capacities in every field of professionalism in order for national STI plans and programmes to contribute to development strategies and as well improve the competitiveness of the productive sectors in Nigeria.
In pursuit of this goal, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology as an organisation with the mandate to enhance innovation in the country, under its watch is empowered to oversee 17 agencies to achieve this task via the office of the Minister of Science and Technology. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has for almost five years consistently held the science expo in Abuja apart from that of 2019, which was held in the eastern part of the country, Enugu state.
A critical analysis from the entire exposition itself is that the minister always emphasises that the major reason for the yearly event was instituted to bring together researchers, innovators, inventors, creators and investors for the purpose of commercialization and thus, progress in the number of patents there is in the country.
For instance, the number of patents available in the entire nation was merely 6 which has now jumped to 57 in the present due to hard work put in by the Minister and the Director-General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. DanAzumi Mohammed Ibrahim in promoting the development of indigenous software through establishment of local vendor policy in Nigeria.
So far, the minister has made it mandatory for all the 17 agencies/parastatals under his watch, organisations, individuals, inclusive private and federal schools, and research centres, etc. to be on their toes at all times to participate in the award section of the event for the main purpose of projecting talents, creating jobs for the idle mind as well as to be independent of the federal government.
The Expo 2020
Though this being the fourth edition of expo since it commenced, President Mohammamudu Buhari, who graced the occasion alongside other important dignitaries of the nation said the theme for this year, ‘Enhancing the Growth of a Diversified Economy Through Science and Technology’ came in very timely to support the vision of the present administration.
While declaring the event open, the president assured Nigerians that he would make sure his administration delivers hundred million unemployed people from such dilemma through STI.
Buhari, lauded the Ministry of Science and Technology for recognising the three students and the schools they represented (that were awarded) for their hard work which singled them out via their talents.
Furthermore, he assured the youngsters of a full scholarship on science discipline of any University of their choice within Nigeria.
Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the initiative would help solidify the vision of the Mr. President.
STI to bind Nigerians
This STI Expo that brings together researchers, inventors, Innovators and entrepreneurs provide us the best opportunity to achieve our goal of attaining self-reliance as a nation. It will help us in the commercialisation process, whereby ideas from our universities and polytechnics, research results from our Institutes and Industrial Laboratories including those from the informal sector are covered into products found in our markets for the good of all citizens. This will help a new Nigeria to be born where though tribe and tongue may differ, but science and technology will bind us together in the common pursuit of creating more jobs, creating wealth, reducing poverty, strengthening the Naira, reawakening our sense of pride and ultimately stimulate growth in our economy.
STI creates over 900,000 jobs
According to Onu the present administration have encouraging signs adding that in the past six months, Science and Technology sector has helped create over 900,000 jobs. “Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that Nigeria saved over one trillion Naira in the importation of raw materials in both 2017 and 2018. The data for 2019 is yet to be released,” he stated.
The minister further said that the federal ministry of Science and Technology said since the journey began in 2017, the ministry started the process of identifying bright young Nigerians at the secondary school level in a programme tagged 774 young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774 YONSPA). Adding that the continuous process would move the economy from depending entirely on commodities to depend on knowledge that is innovative driven.
During his welcome speech, the Minister of State Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi disclosed that the objective of the expo is to enable science and technology contribute effectively to the overall Economic Recovery and Growth which is in conjunction with the national Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Interaction between researchers and inventors
“The Expo is designed to encourage interaction between researchers and inventors, bringing to the forefront the capabilities of Nigerian Scientists, Engineers, Inventors, and innovators towards facilitating the growth of indigenous manufacturing hinged on Science, Technology and Innovations as well as to promote STI culture in Nigeria.
Abdullahi lauded the federal government for the initiative saying that it is the only way in which the nation can be great. “No nation can achieve greatness without enhancing STI. The ministry and it parastatals are in support of the initiative using the instrument of STI to drive the national economy to the next level through economic diversification strategic economic diversification strategy and programme in the wake of the dwindling oil revenue.
Speaking, the representative of the Senate President Ahmad Lawal, the Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, said it was a welcome idea always as STI sector is recognised worldwide as a major key to improve the economy.
Also speaking, the Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said, Nigeria as a nation cannot and should not be left behind because science, innovations and economy works hand in hand to develop the economy. “We should have it at the back of our minds that cut across our economy, Science, road construction, health sector, security has to do with technology and we are yet to showcase these potentials. Adding that the National Assembly would give priority to Science and Technology.