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.