Onu canvasses diversification of economy through STI
Former Minister of Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu has emphasised the need for lawmakers and relevant government parastatals to deepen their knowledge in science, technology and innovation oversight functions.
Onu added that the challenges of sustainable development and governance that is currently facing Nigeria could be tackled through strategic approaches to research and innovation for diversification of the economy.
He stressed that for Nigeria to diversify, it must put science, technology and innovation on the front burner of its developmental agenda through efficient buy-in from the policy makers and users of the research outputs.
Onu who spoke at a programme organised by the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) for National Assembly members and other key stakeholders, said it was time to connect the major players in Science Technology and Innovation management in Nigeria.
He lamented that Nigeria is still faced with the challenges of inefficient exploitation of its huge and abundant human and material resources for nation building, given her reliance on export of natural resources and raw/unprocessed commodities such as fossil fuel, cash crops, unprocessed solid minerals and others as the major sources of revenue for the economy.
Onu said this has exposed the country to economic instability occasioned by the vagaries of international commodities, market.
The minister also lamented that only a small proportion of entrepreneurial start-ups are engaged in radical innovation in the country, adding that in the era of rapidly changing technology and shortening product life-cycles, a country’s ability to develop and successfully commercialise innovations has become a key competitive strength.
He said: “The only available option to change this trajectory is enhancing the diversification of our dear nation’s economy through application and deployment of cutting-edge research and innovation in all sectors of the economy: Agriculture, Biotechnology, Health, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Education, Nanotechnology, Space Technology, etc.
“In order to get the needed impacts on society, research must be demand-driven and tailored towards solving societal problems and improving the quality of life of citizens. It has been irrefutably proven that ground-breaking research and commercialisation of research outcomes are bringing a paradigm shift in today’s world and any nation wishing to develop and grow at a fast pace must opt for solution-based research. There is no better time for research than now when Nigerians are trying to look inwards to find alternatives by using locally developed technologies to address national challenges.”
Director-General NACETEM, Professor Okechukwu Ukwuoma stated that the meeting was necessary at a time when the diversification agenda and National Economic Sustainability Plan of the current administration are geared at repositioning Nigeria towards bouncing back stronger from the ravaging impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Moving the economy from almost wholly resource-based to knowledge and innovation driven towards reclaiming the nation’s pride of place among the comity of nations and realising the great hopes and aspirations of our founding fathers at independence, there is no better veritable tool to turn to than science, technology and innovation. This thus makes this forum much more critical as the deployment of science, technology and innovation (STI) for short-term, medium-term and long-term benefits of Nigeria and the need to robustly fund STI will be its focus.”
Chairman, Governing Board of NACETEM, Haastrup Olatunji noted that the research output of many countries is significantly affected by the amount of money dedicated to research and development (R&D).
“Though greater investment does not always guarantee excellence, research shows that there is a strong correlation between the level of research excellence a country attains and the amount of money it dedicates to research and development.”