The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has disclosed that the Bill for the establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council is ready and will be presented to the council on Thursday.
Onu who disclosed this when he met with a delegation from the Nigerian Academy of Science (NSA), led by its President, Prof K. Mosto Onuoha in Abuja on Monday, said the law will also give legal backing to the Research and Innovation Fund.
He said so far, the council met three times last year, having not met for about 30 years.
“The fourth meeting is on Thursday and we virtually ready with a draft Bill. The meeting will be for me to present a draft Bill for the establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council and also the National Research and Innovation Fund. So that we can now move to the Federal Executive Council and from there to the National Assembly”.
He explained that the Federal Government believes that once it is able to institutionalise the council and the Fund, then it will in a better position to improve on the funding researches and innovations in all aspect of the economy.
He said the ministry is working a roadmap document that will map the pathway science and technology development till 2030.
He assured NSA of the ministry’s support, adding that “I feel very happy that our Academy of Science has the very best that we can think of in the area of science in our country. This ministry will always work closely with the Nigerian Academy of Science and I want to assure you that as Minister, we will work closely with you. Support you when we can and cooperate with you all the time for projects and programmes that are in the best interest of our country”.
He said the ministry is taking Nigeria away from what we have been since Independence, adding that there “is a new rule, a new journey, it is a difficult journey but it is a very important journey that we must take as a nation and for us to become a truly great nation”.
Onu explained that Nigeria for too long based its economy on resources, commodities which has not been helpful for the country.
“The very disturbing aspect of it is that we do not determine the price of these resources. At Independence, it was agricultural products and later it became petroleum products-crude oil and natural gas. Both petroleum and agricultural products are natural commodities.”
He stressed that the situation means anytime there is a sharp fall in commodities, the country goes into recession.
“What we want to do Nigeria is to make that it is not every time there is a sharp drop in commodity prices then we start having problems. So, we need to move our economy from just resource based to knowledge based, innovation driven economy.
“And that is when science comes in. the Academy is very important and can be very helpful to us in this journey”, he added.
Earlier, Prof Onuoha solicited the ministry’s support in executing its projects and programmes for the year, stating the Academy will be celebrating its 40 years of existence.