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Buhari orders NASENI to bridge COVID-19 research gap, others

By Terhemba Daka and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
27 January 2021   |   3:01 am
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to work towards bridging the gaps in research

Gates tasks rich nations on vaccine availability, responsibility

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to work towards bridging the gaps in research and technology in the country.

This comes, as Nigeria waits on other countries for supplies and solutions, especially in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a board meeting at the State House, Abuja, the President, who is also the board chairman, urged the agency to play a pivotal role in equipping the nation during emergencies, while encouraging research, upgrading of local skills, fabrication and international collaborations to provoke growth in science and technology.

He said: “The uniqueness of the mandate of NASENI as enshrined in its enabling law towards the actualisation and realisation of our development programmes such as the creation of 10 million jobs and Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (ERGP) and Post COVID-19 sustainability Plan.

“It is the only deliberate deployment of Engineering, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) using technology domestication and reversing engineering of capital goods, as well as making them available in Nigeria that can fast-track realisation of our collective will to build capacity and reduce poverty among our teeming populace.

“The countries that are at the forefront of economic recovery have only one thing in common: investment and sustained research and development work in the knowledge economy. COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the technology and innovation gap between us and the developed world, which NASENI is strategically positioned to fill.”

Buhari continued: “However, in order to realise its full potential, NASENI must be empowered through the provision of adequate financial, human and material resources and be given the autonomy and independence to forge international partnerships to acquire the relevant technologies for socio-economic and industrial advancement of the country.

“In this regard, I have directed the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Federal Inland Revenue Service to commence remittance of funds approved by law to the agency.”

The Nigerian also mandated the minister to conclude negotiation and acceptance of 85 per cent funding source for the production of solar cells, high voltage testing laboratory and transformer in collaboration with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

In his remarks, NASENI’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. M.S. Haruna, said the agency had invested in human capacity development, translating into manufacturing of kinetic turbine, pre-paid metres, transformers, brick moulding machines, laboratory equipment and unmanned aerial drones.

RELATEDLY, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has urged wealthy nations to make the vaccines available to all, reminding them that the virus knows no boundary and therefore remains a threat to everyone.

It said the disease would cost the world $28 trillion, adding billions needed to be spent to save trillions and prevent millions of deaths.

In its yearly letter titled “The year global health went local”, BMGF said the inclusive response to the virus would save lives and livelihoods aside creating a foundation for a post-pandemic world that would be stronger, more equal and more resilient.

The Gates said they had so far invested $1.75 billion in the ongoing fight, clarifying that most of the funds went into production and procurement of crucial medical supplies.