By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday granted full scholarship up to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree level to three secondary students who emerged winners at the year 2020 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award Competition.
The scholarship, according to the President, was in any science-related discipline of their choice at any university in the country.
President Buhari announced the award of the scholarship while declaring open the 2020 Science, Technology and Innovation Expo with the theme ”Enhancing The Growth Of A Diversified Economy Through Science And Technology”, in Abuja.
Buhari commended the creativity and competitive spirit of the three young scientists who emerged tops in the competition tagged 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774 YONSPA).
The students are: Masters Akintade Abdullahi Akanbi of Osun State from Osogbo Government High School Osogbo, Osun State, who came first; while the second positions went to Uwakwe Nelson Kamsiyochukwu of Anambra State from British Spring College, Awka and Aimofumhe Eshiobomhe Sigmus of FCT from the School of the Gifted, Gwagwalada, Abuja, respectively.
The President said that Nigeria’s greatest resource was its human capital, assuring that his administration would continue to support human resource development.
He said, ”This is richly embodied in our youth who make up tens of millions of incredibly talented persons, constantly pushing and striving towards greatness. The future of Nigeria belongs to our youth.
”This Administration will therefore continue to create the enabling environment for them to develop to the fullest, their potentials.
”We will harness their energy and their talents to make Nigeria achieve true greatness,” he said.
The President reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to partner with the private sector on science, technology and innovation sector development towards ensuring that the sector plays the very important role in advancing the frontiers of knowledge for nation building.
”Government will continually support the creation of intervention funds to strengthen research and development, human capacity building programmes and collaboration with the organized private sector.
”We will continue to work towards the realisation of the National Research and Innovation Fund. I am aware, this Fund will help promote research activities in our country.”
He therefore, directed the ministers of science and technology to create the needed opportunities to ensure that Nigerian scientists work towards providing solutions to the nation’s challenges of insecurity, unemployment, poverty, healthcare delivery and power, among others.
The President affirmed that if Nigerian potentials in the Science and Technology Sector are properly harnessed, with the enabling environment created, 100 million Nigerians will be taken out of poverty in the next ten years.
”This remains my aim for Nigerians,” he stressed, noting that Nigerians at home and abroad have always demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and inventiveness and with the right environment, and policy framework, there is no limit to how far Nigerian innovation can go.
”A prime example of an outstanding Nigerian is Mal. Jelani Aliyu, who is now Director-General of the National Automatic Design and Development Council.
”Malam Jelani designed the General Motors of America’s leading auto brand the Chevrolet Volt. Now he is assuring Nigerians that all the cars that took part in Argungu Motor Rally were assembled in Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu thanked the President for the many efforts in promoting STI, including recognizing the sector as being at the centre of all economic activities under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.
The Minister said that in the last six months of the second term of President Buhari, the STI sector helped create over 900,000 jobs while data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that Nigeria saved over N1 trillion in the importation of raw materials in both 2017 and 2018.
”The data for 2019 is yet to be released. Patents from scientists and engineers, who passed through the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), an agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, have continued to increase.
”In 2015, the first year of the Buhari administration, it was only six. In 2016; it was 16, 50 in 2017, 55 in 2018 and 57 in 2019,” he said.
As the Covid-19 crisis spreads across the globe, Dr Onu declared that what is happening around the world is a wake-up call to intensify efforts to manufacture goods locally and patronize made-in-Nigeria products.
”The Presidential Executive Order No. 5 and the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development in the country already passed by the Federal Executive Council will help in realizing this noble objective,” he said.