VISION, THE RIGHT STUFF

June 17th, 2019

Continuity of policies has been observed as a critical factor in national development and growth because it makes for consistency in the implementation of government policies and programmes. This consistency is most needed in sectors where fairly long period of gestation is needed to realise the needed positive changes and transformation.

One of such sectors is the Science and Technology sector. The other sector needing such long period of consistency is the fiscal and monetary sector. President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have appreciated the need for consistency in critical sectors with his re-appointment of Mr Godwin Emefiele as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria for a second term.

President Buhari whose government has shown little interest in re-appointing heads/chief executive officers (CEOs) of federal Government parastatals took many people by surprise when he announced the re-appointment of Mr Emefiele. It was a clear message that the economic sector needs continuity if the country is to get out of the woods given the myriads of economic challenges facing the nation. Even the least economic-minded Nigerian saw how the markets and indeed the entire Nigerian economy reacted positively to the re-appointment of the CBN Governor with almost all economic indicators remaining stable or moving up the ladder on the positive side. Confidence in the Nigerian economy has etched up higher as a result too.

Having dealt with the Economy, the Science and Technology Sector is the next area that deserves similar treatment. The ministry of Science and Technology is actually the sector that should be driving the economy of Nigeria as it does in other development-conscious countries. For long, revenue from oil had overshadowed the Science and Technology Sector but with the decline in oil revenue, the Nigerian economy has been badly with about 27 states in Nigeria not able to balance and implement their budgets due to dwindling oil revenue.

Today, the talk about diversification of the economy and generation of non-oil revenues has become more imperative than before. But such talk will remain mere academic exercise if Nigeria fails to give Science and Technology its pride of place in our national priority schedule.

Take Agriculture for instance, despite the well-acknowledged achievements of the Buhari Administration in enhanced food production, the threat of hunger and starvation still stares the nation on the face prompting the on-going discussions on the introduction of genetically modified Food (GMF). That is Science and Technology at its high level. Again, self-sufficiency in foods production in Nigerian can only be achieved only when we deploy the needed Technology in the Agricultural sector especially in the areas of mechanization, harvesting, preservation and adding value to produce by using them in production of industrial and domestic goods.

Where is Nigeria today in Technological efforts? Well, at paperwork stage. The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology has in the last four years completed the formulation of the necessary policies and paper works that will give life to the nation’s much awaited technological and industrial take off. The foundation for this take-off was laid with the promulgation and signing of the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 by President Muhammadu Buhari about a year ago.

It sets the basic regulations on conduct of Science and Technology businesses placing premium emphasis on the promotion of indigenous technology. It was the brainchild of the immediate past Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu. It is expected to bring to an end, decades of frustration Nigeria has gone through trying to develop home grown Technology.

Dr Onu’s strides at the Ministry of Science and Technology were such that at the valedictory meeting with the staff, he received the Ministry’s Best ever performing Minister Award since its establishment.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr. Bitrus Bako Nabasu, who announced the award on behalf of the Staff, Directors and Directors General of the Ministry’s Agencies said the award was in recognition of the sterling achievements of the Minister in repositioning the Science and Technology sector in the country.

According to Mr. Nabasu, no Minister in the history of the Ministry has impacted the Ministry as Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had done. He said Dr. Onu introduced durable and enduring policies to the Ministry. Such policies, he added, included the Science and Technology Road Map (2017 – 2030), the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw materials and Products development, Executive Order 5 and the National Leather and Products Policy, the first of such since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.

Mr. Nabasu said the entire management and staff of the Ministry are very proud of the Minister and his track record of achievements, adding that the policies will in the near future start yielding dividends for the country.

Dr Onu had remarked “I believe that this (Executive Order No. 5) is a major achievement for our nation. What it means is that there is now a significant change in the mental attitude that we have towards science and technology. People now recognise the central role of science and technology in the economic development of our country.
“The Executive Order No. 5 is therefore the revolutionary instrument which the Buhari administration has deployed to redirect our economy, from its old, unsustainable path of being resource-based to a new, sustainable and inclusive path of being a knowledge and innovation driven economy. The Executive Order No. 5 is meant to promote patriotism, love of country and economic nationalism as potent tools for a new social engineering of our dear country. It will certainly trigger a silent revolution in how we think as a people and how we regard science and technology as the missing link in our quest to become a truly great nation.
“The Buhari Administration expects that in the next 10-20 years, Nigerian companies and firms will be competing with the very best in other parts of the world for projects and contracts in international tenders.

Also worthy of mention is the bold step taken by the former Minister to develop the innovative Leather Products Policy for Nigeria, the first of its kind since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Unarguably, it is aimed at strengthening the objectives of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (2017-2020) by providing the enabling framework that will promote indigenous technology.

This will help accelerate our industrialization efforts as a nation and strengthen our capacity, to convert our rich agricultural products into viable goods and services to enhance domestic consumption and boost export trade, thus boosting our national economy. Further, is the landmark effort that will enable Nigeria enhance her national capacity to locally produce acceptable high quality raw materials that will enable her conserve scarce foreign exchanges, build domestic capacity that will enable the country creates as much as 4.4 million jobs within the first five years of the implementation of the novel National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria.

We have also yet another significant constitution of the Ministry under the former University Don’s watch to national development through the successful development of advanced genetic engineering technologies to successfully produce two varieties of cotton. This will immeasurably help strengthen ongoing efforts by the Buhari Administration to revive our ailing textile industry thereby promoting local content in our economic diversification process.

Indeed, these are encouraging signs that Nigeria’s future greatness lies in the effective development of Science and Technology and Innovation as a key pillar of her economic development process in line with the core objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG) 2017-2020.

THE AUTHORITY Newspapers salutes the vision, resourcefulness and patriotism of the outgone Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu during his eventful tenure in office. It is our conviction that his efforts will most certainly find expression in Nigeria’s future efforts to join the league of developed nations of the world. Indeed, as President Muhammadu Buhari grapples with the challenge of shopping for men and women of proven repute and salutary antecedents who will constitute his Next Level members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), we urge that he does so with an eye on those who possess similar attributes as the former Minister to enable him meet the Next Level Agenda he promised Nigerians.

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