The Honourable Minister of Science and technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has said that Science and Technology is a panacea to fighting and reducing poverty for the happiness of Nigerians. The Honourable Minister made this remarks recently at the National Defence College Nigeria when he delivered a lecture entitled ‘’ National Self Reliance through Science, Technology and Innovation‘’ to participants of Course 26 National Defence College. He said, technology has a very important role to play, both at war time and also in the maintenance of peace and prosperity. He used the opportunity to commend the Nigerian armed forces for the heroic role they played in helping to resolve the conflict in the Gambia, during their most recent presidential election, which otherwise would have resulted in a threat to peace in the sub-region.
The Honourable Minister while delivering the lecture drew the attention of all to the situation in the recent past when certain commodities that played a dominant role, such as crude oil, due to advances in technology, lost their pre-eminence. He however reiterated that the challenge facing Nigeria is to initiate bold and visionary policies that will help move the economy in the direction of diversification, such that when the demand for crude oil drops in the global market as we recently witnessed, we can absorb the shock and avoid experiencing the trauma of recession, which has always had adverse effect on the Nigerian economy.
He buttressed on the very important efforts the present government is making to use science and technology to redirect the developmental process of the Nation, so as to diversify our economy in a sustainable manner, create wealth and new jobs that can guarantee a buoyant and dynamic economy capable of reducing poverty for Nigerians. In furtherance, he said, the government had also worked hard to conduct research and innovation in agencies, that can help achieve food safety and security, improve communication and movement of persons and goods from one part of the country to another, provide shelter to our people, assist the provision of water and power for use in both our homes and factories, in addition to the protection of the environment, as well as providing healthcare and education to our people and also through the use of nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, rocketry, space technology to help secure our nation. The Minister echoed that the main thrust of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, is to make Nigeria self-reliant. He said, ’’ the time has come for us to start looking inwards to find solutions to our numerous technological problems.’’
Dr Onu said, the cardinal purpose of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is to accelerate research and innovation in areas that will stimulate national self-reliance and reduce imports into the country. He asserted that as a nation, we must use what we produce and produce what we use and also our responsibility to ensure that our nation deploys all facets of science and technology to fast track our developmental process. He further explained why the current government have recently articulated and presented the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (NSTIR) 2017 – 2030. This was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on June 24, 2017. It was designed to move the country away from a resource based to a knowledge based, innovation driven economy that is predicated on the essential need of ensuring the deployment of science, technology and innovation as a key instrument that will help drive Nigeria’s economic diversification process, especially in the emerging post crude oil global economy. The Roadmap is set out in the short-term to help achieve the “Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP) 2017 – 2020’, which stated clearly that “science and technology will be effectively harnessed to drive national competitiveness, productivity and economic activities in all sectors”. He also mentioned that the Roadmap will also provide and support long term science and technology framework and mechanism that will accelerate an industrial revolution in Nigeria. It will also facilitate the creation and acquisition of requisite knowledge that will aid the production, adaptation, replication and utilization of technologies that will strengthen our nation’s technological development.
He asserted that, in the past two years, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has commenced a new journey of technological advancement. In another development, the Minister said, ‘’ in order to ensure that we succeed in achieving the goal we set for ourselves, new steps, new policies and new programmes on science and technology has been developed and embarked by the current government. Dr Onu said, recently his ministry organized a landmark “Technology and Innovation Expo 2017” which had as its theme: “Science, Technology and Innovation for Nigeria’s Economic Development”. He pointed the emerging forces of globalization which demand that we must secure our citizens and safe guard our nation. He continued that we cannot meaningfully achieve this without placing emphasis on science and technology, especially considering the urgent need for us to build a strong and resilient economy that is diversified in order to enable us withstand any future shocks arising from any sharp drop in the price of commodities in the international market. Finally, he advised that, everybody must always be prepared for innovation, for victory always comes to those who are the most prepared.
The Commandant National Defence College, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo, while giving his remarks after the lecture of the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, applauded the minister for the eloquent and well delivered lecture. He reiterated that the nation cannot continue to depend on others to meet our technological needs. The Commandant emphatically said that Nigeria has come of age and cannot continue to be a nation of mere consumers. He said there must be a deliberate and concerted effort to embrace science, technology and innovation that will lead us to enduring prosperity. He also emphasized national development as a criterion for a nation’s survival and that for every nation to survive you must innovate or die. He finally advised participants of Course 26 to cash on the erudite lecture of the Honourable Minister, so as to be strategic leaders that will promote science, technology and innovation for the advancement of our dear nation.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr William Babatunde Fowler has emphasized that taxation is a catalyst to a sustainable National Development. He made this remarks when he delivered a lecture to participants of Course 26 at the National Defence College Nigeria. The title of his lecture was tagged “Impact of Taxation on National Development in Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service in Perspective”. While delivering the lecture, he said government the world over need money to finance their expenditure, which includes infrastructure and Social Services.
The Executive Chairman reiterated that there are two major ways for government to finance its expenditure that is, through taxation and borrowing. He however, argued that taxation is deemed preferable to borrowing as debt has to be repaid usually with interest and other debt servicing obligations which can sometimes create additional burden on government. Mr Fowler further asserted that most developed economies of the world are tax-based economies, while resource-based economies are either developing or underdeveloped and are usually faced with revenue shortfall when the prices of their natural resources drop.
In another development, he laid the premise that studies have shown that the extent to which an economy is able to grow sustainably and develop depends to a large extent on its ability to generate tax revenue to finance its expenditure and the efficiency of its tax system. He also disclosed that taxes and levies collected by Federal, State and Local Governments include Withholding Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Company Income Tax, Pay as You Earn or Personal Income Tax and Stamp Duties Tax. Other taxes, he said include, Petroleum Profit Tax, Education Tax and Technology Levy. The Executive Chairman said, amidst the relevance of taxation on national economy, the Federal government faces revenue generation challenges. These challenges, he said include Tax Evasion and Avoidance, Poor Inter Agency Collaboration with revenue Stakeholders, Poor or absence of Record Keeping by Business Owners. Other challenges include operations outside the formally regulated monetary economy, lack of Patriotism and positive Tax Culture and predominantly cash based transactions. The revenue generation challenges faced by States and Local Governments, Mr Fowler said, includes poor information flow and systemic leakages. Poverty and Insecurity, Emphasis on crude oil by Government and Underdeveloped Tax System inherent in States and Local governments.
The Commandant, National Defence College, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo while delivering his remarks, thanked the Executive Chairman for the articulate, erudite and well-presented lecture at the highest military institution in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara region. Rear Admiral Adeniyi reiterated that taxation is key to any economy the world over. He advised that the Nigeria’s current revenue challenges has brought to the fore the need to diversify our revenue base at Federal, State and Local Government Levels. He concluded that tax and revenue authorities need to focus on closing current gaps in the revenue collection system while also identifying new as well as untapped source of revenue generation for economic prosperity in the Nation.
The National Defence College Nigeria during the Inauguration of participants of Course 26 recently hosted His Excellency, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda. The Commandant of the highest military institution in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo remarked that as an international and strategic institution, the College was committed to integrating the factors that impacted on regional security and development with a view to proffer credible strategies towards addressing them, hence the choice of President Museveni as the guest lecturer on the topic “Sub-Regional Corporation and the stability of member states: Economic Community of East African States in perspective”.
The President of the Republic of Uganda while delivering the lecture at the National Defence College,reiterated that “In the light of the trajectory of experiences of African countries viz-a-viz the present happenings in Nigeria, he cautioned against politics of identity not only in Nigeria but other African Countries, saying those playing politics of identity are doing a disservice to their countries, and to Africa”.
The President added that “Nigerians should stop playing politics of identity, saying I am Fulani or Yoruba by tribe. No it should be primarily politics of interest based on where your prosperity comes from”. He equally emphasized in his lecture that every member of his ethnic group in Uganda has cow and milk but they cannot achieve prosperity by selling these products to themselves, therefore need to look beyond their ethnic group to achieve prosperity. Museveni concluded by saying that for development and growth to take shape in African countries, Africans must embrace one another and work closely with each other in all areas of human endeavours to optimize its potentials and opportunities.
The Commandant National Defence College, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo described President Museveni as “a nationalist per excellence who revitalized Uganda by providing political stability, a growing economy and improved infrastructure”.
The Ugandan leader was accompanied by the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister, Ugandan Ambassador to Nigeria and other high profile dignitaries of his political Cabinet.