By Obas Esiedesa
The full implementation of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (NSTIR) 2030 will place Nigeria on the path of sustainable economic growth that is less dependent on export of raw commodities and import of finished products.
It would also make the economy knowledge based, rather than been driven by the export of commodities.
These were the assertions of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu on Thursday at the North Central Sensitization programme on NSTIR at the auditorium of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in Abuja.
Onu noted that with the roadmap Nigeria was for the first time, since 1914 when the north and south were amalgamated, changing the direction of its economy by moving it away from commodity export dependent.
He expressed the hope that the document which has a 13-year life span would be implemented even when the tenure of the current administration ends, pointing out that the roadmap was in the country’s “national interest”.
He said: “Nigeria came into existence on January 1, 1914 when the northern and southern protectorates were brought together. At that time, the British had two principal reasons for our country; one, they wanted Nigeria to be a market for their goods, and secondly, they wanted Nigeria to be a ready, reliable source of raw materials for their factories.
“So, our economy from 1914 was based on resources, export of commodities. By 1960, we got independence, which was a major achievement but with that independence, we did not change the direction for our economy. The economy remained based on resources, on commodities until the present administration came on board”.
The minister explained that while the economy depended on export of farm produce in the 1960s, it has the past decades depended on export of petroleum commodities, that is crude oil and gas.
He pointed out that in all the cases, Nigeria had no control over the price of the commodities, stressing that each time the economy went into recession, it was caused by drastic drop in the price of these commodities.
The Minister pointing out that Nigeria could longer afford to export raw commodities and import finished goods, if is to achieve sustainable national development.
“The economy must be innovation driven where raw commodities are turned into finished goods that will create jobs and wealth for the nation”, he added.
He therefore urged the staff of the ministry and its agencies to read and digest the roadmap to ensure full implementation.
“The document must be owned by all staff in particular and Nigerians in general”, Dr. Onu stated.
Earlier, the Director, Science and Technology Promotion in the ministry, Mr. Ekanem Udom explained that the roadmap was developed after extensive research of past policies and documents with inputs from universities, polytechnics, research institutes as well as Nigerian scientists and researchers in diaspora.