Creating new technologies that will help improve products and other services in Nigeria will provide the needed vehicle that will change the nation from a consumer nation to a producing one, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, says.
The statement is part of convictions put forward by the minister, as he lists benefits that Nigeria will get from fully exploring science, technology and innovation in the oil-rich nation’s quest to come out of recession through further diversification of the economy.
He made the suggestions on Thursday at the closing of the 14th meeting of the National Council on Science and Technology in Osogbo, Osun State.
The minister spoke on the “role of science, technology and innovation in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy”.
Instrument For National Rebirth
He says no nation has become great without science and technology.
“It is high-time Nigeria looked inward and use science, technology and innovation to explore its national resources.”
“As I speak, economic challenges facing the nation require that urgent action is taken to diversify the economy in a sustainable and competitive manner by deploying science and technology as an instrument for national rebirth.
In order to achieve this, Nigeria must move away from being a mere consumer nation to become in the nearest possible time, a producer of many of the things her citizens need. We must consider moving away from a resource based economy to a knowledge-based, innovation driven economy”.
To achieve the shift, he called for a collaboration between the three tiers of government – Federal State and Local Governments – that would enhance effective domestication of science, technology and innovation policies.
The minister urged organised private sectors to explore ways of partnering with various research institutions and agencies to achieve a common goal.
He said: “I also urge the Organised Private Sectors (OPS) to explore ways of partnering with our various research institutes and agencies in commercialising viable products for the good of the society.
“The OPS can benefit tremendously from the research institutes by expanding their business opportunities through commercialisation of research findings.
“On our part, we have already begun efforts aimed at ensuring greater efficiency on policy implementation by encouraging closer inter-agency cooperation among the 17 agencies under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
“I call on state governments in the federation that are yet to create their Ministry of Science and Technology to do so in order to forge closer bonds that will strengthen overall national development”.
Economy Around Oil
In his remark, the Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, observed that Africa’s underdevelopment was due to inability to apply science and technology, urging Nigerians to change their attitude towards science and innovation.
“The bane of Africa’s underdevelopment and the bottom position that we blacks are in the world are due to our inability to apply science and innovate”.
“If we want a change in our circumstances as a people, as a race, we must change our attitude to science, technology and innovation.
“We are in this very depressing state economically because everything about Nigeria is based on oil. Our economy is built around the export of crude oil,” Mr Aregbesola told reporters.
The Governor, who advocated building of a knowledge-based society, encouraged people to stop depending on foreign products and begin consumption of locally made ones.
“It is a very bad thing to rely so much on foreign goods. Nigerians need to learn a lesson. Let us have less dependence on everything that we don’t produce from automobile to fuel, food, household products, electronics, mobile phones, building materials, sporting equipment, textiles, clothing items, cosmetics, attachment,” he cautioned.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs Belema Wakama, said the meeting was to cross fertilise ideas on the how nation could come out of recession through the application of science, technology and innovation.
The three-day meeting which drew Commissioners for Science and Technology from across the 36 states of the federation and other stakeholders in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology also featured the display of several innovations.