The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology last week held the 2018 edition of its Science and Technology Expo where government research institutes, universities, private research institutes and other innovators exhibited their latest innovations and research results, writesOBAS ESIEDESA.
The Innovation and Technology Expo tagged: ‘Fast tracking sustainable development of Nigeria through science and technology’, attracted visitors from across the country.
Unlike the 2017 edition which featured mostly finished products and services, this year’s edition was limited to results of research findings and prototype of latest technologies and innovations.
So, exhibited were prototypes of unmanned surveillance vehicles, robots, automated production plants and many others.
Also unlike last year which had complete absence of the Presidency, this year’s event had in attendance, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who declared it opened and set the tune for the 5-day Expo.
In his opening address, Professor Osinbajo struck an optimistic tune as he pointed out that Nigerians were very creative people and if given the right environment would compete successfully with people from other countries.
Osinbajo said the government would provide intervention fund to support research and development in the country, disclosing that technology hubs would be established in the six geo-political zones in Nigeria to encourage young Nigerians to embrace technology development.
While urging the private sector to invest in home grown technologies, the Vice President noted that developing technologies in-country would not only boost the economy but also create jobs for Nigerians.
He charged ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government to ensure that the Executive Order 5 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari that made it mandatory for local companies to be given preferences in the award of contracts for projects and programmes of the government achieved its objectives.
The Vice President who presented awards to three secondary school students who won the Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award contested for by students across the 774 local governments across the country, praised the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu for awakening the interest of Nigerians in science, technology and innovations.
He congratulated Masters Idakwoji Daniel Omonu of the Federal Capital Territory, Ajisafe Solomon of Ogun State and Akingbulugbe Oladipupo of Ondo State for emerging first, second and third respectively during the contests.
He said for emerging winners, the Federal Government would grant them scholarship to study up to doctorate level.
Earlier, Dr. Onu said the Expo makes it clear that through science and technology, Nigeria would be able to tackle challenges of hunger, fight disease, fight illiteracy and fight underdevelopment.
The Minister pointed out that the Expo showed that “Nigeria can engage the world with science and technology as the driver of her economic development. It has shown that Nigeria has the capacity to lead a new initiative that will help diversify our economy in a sustainable manner by encouraging the harnessing and application of indigenous technology.
“It has shown that through this Expo, a new Nigeria can be born where though tribe and tongue may differ, science and technology can bind us together in the common pursuit of creating more jobs, creating wealth, reducing poverty, strengthening the Naira, reawakening our sense of pride and ultimately stimulating growth in our economy”, he stated.
He expressed optimism that by embracing science and innovation Nigeria can surpass the achievements of advanced countries, noting that “already, there are signs that we are on the onward march toward a new dawn.
The Expo also had special days for government agencies especially those under the Ministry of Science and Technology to educate and showcase their efforts in the past one year.
Leading the agencies were the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) and the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).
In his presentation at NOTAP Special Day, the Director General of NOTAP, Dr. DanAzumi Ibrahim explained that the number patents a country has is an indication of its development.
He therefore called on scientists and technologists to patent their inventions in order to secure their intellectual property.
He said this would not only stop other persons from stealing the result of their work, but also attract private sector investments to their research findings.
He pledged the support of NOTAP to researchers and innovators, saying the agency will help scientists to obtain patents free of charge.
He noted that last year alone, 50 patents were issued to research institutes, universities and individuals as part of effort to encourage researchers.
Also speaking at FIIRO Special Day, the Director General of FIIRO, Prof. Gloria Elemo said it was important that research results are commercialized to grow Nigeria’s economy and create jobs for the people.
Elemo said FIIRO would continue to conduct demand driven research in line with its mandate, noting that the automation of its ‘Kunu’ and ‘Zobo’ drinks production plants is a testament of its commitment to the development of local technology.
She said: “In FIIRO we engage in demand driven research, research that will move the nation forward. Today we are showing the automation of process technology, an indigenous technology that has been developed. We have the automation of the kunu plant. The kunu can stay on the shelves without refrigeration for two years. This has export potentials. So, also the production of Zobo has been automated.
“The programme now and how initiatives are that all of our process technology will now be automated to industrial large scale. It can now be handled from the small scale, medium and large scale”.
At the closing ceremony on Friday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Yakubu Dogara urged Nigerians patronize goods and service made in the country.
He pointed out that purchased products made in Nigeria would fast-track national self-sustainability and create jobs for the people.
The Speaker expressed optimism that the outcome of the expo would advance commercialisation in the country.
According to him, “Through the work of your hand and the power of imagination, you have shown that Nigeria is the home of the rising sun. You have shown that we have the brain to dream and think.
“You have shown that STI holds the key for our beloved country to become truly great. You have shown that the future belongs to Nigerian, if we pay more attention to technology and innovation”, he said.
In his address at the closing, Dr Onu commended the inventors, innovators, investors, researchers, entrepreneurs among other people that genuinely contributed to the success of the expo.
He said: “Let me assure you that the APC led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will not let you down as it will share your faith in STI as the key that would unlock frontiers of Nigeria’s future greatness.
“It shares your dream for a new Nigeria that will in no distant time from now produce Nobel laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine”.
Onu said from next year the Technology and Innovation Expo would now be taken to six geopolitical zones beginning from the South East.
For their excellent performance and exhibition at the Expo some organisations were recognised and given awards.
Under research institutes category, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) came first, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, was second, while Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) got third position.
Tertiary Institute Category- first position went to Covenant University, Ota, Ogun, Nigerian Defence Academy came second, while third position went to Federal University, Ndufu Aliko Ikwo, Ebonyi.
Under the Junior Engineering category, Government Science and Technical College, Garki, Abuja was first, Calvary Arrows College, Gboko, Benue came second, while Government Secondary School, Bwari got third position.