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NLC urges Buhari to sign research innovation council bill

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[FILE PHOTO] The re-elected President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba PHOTO: NAN

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to sign the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) Bill into law, to boost technological breakthrough initiatives of the country.

In his address during the May Day celebration in Abuja, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the bill, which was recently passed by the National Assembly and awaiting Presidential assent is very vital to Nigeria’s quest for technological revolution, industrialisation, human security, inclusive national development, and shared prosperity.

Wabba said the research and technology is key to the nation’s quest to achieve industrialisation and technological advancement, saying the implementation of the bill will ensure adequate funding for researchers.

The NLC boss bemoaned poor funding of research in the country, stressing that there is urgent need to create the legal framework to ensure adequate funding for research institutions.

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He said: “Part of the broad strategy to create mass decent jobs should include very ambitious drive to develop our mining and solid minerals sector.

“Nigeria is endowed with diverse solid minerals. Unfortunately, since the discovery of crude oil in 1956, Nigeria has progressively lost its pride of place as one of the mining destinations in Africa. The contribution of solid minerals to national GDP has plummeted from 4-5% in the first two decades following independence to about 0.46% or N400 billion contributions to GDP.

“The near extinction of our mining sector has resulted to major job losses thus exacerbating Nigeria’s unemployment crisis.
We call on government to fund access roads to mining sites, provide water reservoirs in mining sites and training of artisanal miners and apiarists to enhance their value to the industry.

“It is also important for government to increase funding on the sourcing of geo-scientific data on mining resources as against the current practice of depending on aerial geo-physical survey. We call for the modernisation and development of solid minerals sector with a view to ensuring domestic value addition, local beneficiation and use in other industries.

“In the context, the Federal Government should discourage export of any solid minerals in their crude forms. In order to add value to our vast mineral resources and move our country from primary to secondary and tertiary levels of production, research and technology is key. While we commend President Muhammadu Buhari for inaugurating the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) in January 2016, we call on Mr President to go a step further to assent to the NRIC Bill (2019), which had been transmitted to him by the National Assembly.”

The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), the umbrella body of researchers in Federal Research and Development Institutions (RDIs), Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry, Allied Institutions and Centres supported the position canvassed by the NLC.

In a statement by its General Secretary, Dr Theophilus Ndubuaku, ASURI said Nigeria unbelievably operates close to zero budgetary allocation to research, stressing that once signed into law, NRIC Bill will increase Nigeria’s research capacity and improve its technological base.

The ASURI Scribe expressed concern that in most of the over 150 Nigerian Research and Development Institutions (RDIs) and centres, research and training activities are self-funded by researchers because they must acquire higher degrees and produce research publications before they can be promoted at every stage of their careers, which has reduced research efforts in Nigeria to pure academic exercise.

“Consequently, Nigerian career researchers are the poorest cadre of public servants as they must devote over half of their salaries for research if they must advance in their profession. The NRIC Bill 2018 provides for the institutional research and training funding mechanism and infrastructural development for RDIs in Nigeria,” he added.

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