By Rabiyat Usman:
Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, could be described as an advocate of modalities to improve the nation’s economy using the opportunities availed by science and technology. Just recently, at a world press conference, held at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja, the Minister enunciated a road map for the country towards realizing this objective. According to him: “We have conceived the new Road Map for Science, Technology and Innovation, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to become the new key that will help open the door for Nigeria’s future sustainable development”. He stated that the Road Map when implemented will help the economy adjust to the path of sustainable growth such that it will quicken the pace of recovery in the short term and accelerate sustainable growth in the economy in the medium and long terms” he added.
The Minister added: “The new world order that is unfolding indicates that the end of the crude oil era may not be too far away. Indeed, many countries in Europe and some other parts of the industrialized world are moving in a direction which suggests that in the near future, the demand for crude oil will reduce significantly. “Nigeria must prepare adequately and quickly too, for the challenges which such a situation will create for her economy, especially when it is realized that she is dependent on crude oil as the main stay of her economy”, he added.
Onu emphasized: “We should never forget that in the past, certain commodities that played such a dominant role as crude oil, due to advances in technology, lost their pre-eminent role. Sugar is a good example. Today, in many countries, particularly in the Caribbean, abandoned sugar refining factories can be seen. Those countries, at that time, whose economies depended mainly on sugar suffered greatly when demand for the commodity fell sharply”.
“It is, therefore, with this in mind that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology has initiated bold and visionary new policies that will help move our economy in the direction of diversification such that when the demand for crude oil drops in the global market, we can absorb the shock and avoid experiencing the trauma of recession which has always adversely affected our economy. We must start now, not later, to prepare for a post crude oil era. This is important, not just for us, but for our children,” he added”, he added. The Minister added: “We have put together a novel National Strategy for Promoting Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria. Already the Federal Executive Council has approved it. It is intended to confront and defeat the challenges posed by growing shifts in global production and trade patterns.
“It is also noteworthy that the Federal Executive Council has also approved the new Policy Guidelines for the Planning and Execution of Programmes, Projects and Contracts with Science, Engineering and Technology Components. This is revolutionary and is the first of its kind in Nigeria”. The Minister said, “it is the determination of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to use science and technology as the centerpiece for realizing the national economic recovery and growth plan 2017 – 2020. This means that science, technology and innovation is the new driver that will help diversify the nation’s economy, create jobs, reduce poverty, conquer illiteracy and significantly improve the standard of living of Nigerians. By so doing, we are working for the prosperity and happiness of our people and the greatness of our nation”. Just recently, the minister had earlier addressed the core directorate staff of the Ministry on some of the novel programmes that have been initiated with the aim of effectively utilizing science, technology and innovation in Nigeria’s Technology development process. The minister mandated them to acquaint themselves with the philosophy and strategies of these various programmes to enable them become effective channels through which such new policies can be properly disseminated and effectively implemented.
In a related development, the Director (Science and Technology Promotion) Ekanem J. Udoh told DAILY ASSET that “the Ministry of Science and Technology launched all these initiatives (road map) so that it will help the economy of our great country Nigeria to gain sustainable growth. All these initiatives are tools to diversify the economy of Nigeria, we all are in full support of the new road map rolled out by the Honourable Minister; it is a road map that shows who is to do what, linkages required between government and other related organisations. It is a road map that points out the direction where Nigeria should be economically, a road map that shows where we were many years ago, a new road map that links the past and the future.” “Towards this end we went to the south-east to address the staff likewise the Director Generals and Directors of different cadre so that they can become ambassadors and be able to show the populace the road map”, he added. The Director said “if you recall, the minister while initiating this policy, domesticated this guideline, he said local engineers should be able to work from inception of projects carried out in Nigeria, from planning, designing and even down to maintenance. The Raw Material Competitiveness is also a laudable one, the whole idea is showing Nigeria how much we are spending to import, the Minister mentioned it likewise, we should not be exporting timber and importing toothpick likewise exporting crude oil and importing Kerosene and many more”.