Science, technology key to economic recovery, says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the country must make science and technology a priority to achieve economic recovery, diversification, and sustainability.
He made the comment as he granted scholarships up to doctorate degree level to three secondary school students who emerged winners at the 2021 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774 YONSPA).
The scholarship is for them to study any science-related discipline of their choice at any university in the country.
President Buhari, who spoke yesterday when he declared open the 2021 Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) expo in Abuja, announced the allocation of a minimum of 0.5 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and innovation to boost the development of the country.
The move, according to him, is in line with the decision taken at the Africa Union Executive Council which set a target for members to invest at least one per cent of their GDP in research and development.
Declaring that no nation has ever developed without proper utilisation of science and technology, Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo, reiterated his administration’s commitment to providing enabling environment for the science and technology sector to unlock potentials for innovations for wealth creation and economic growth.
He noted that the expo, themed “Science, Technology, and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainability Amidst COVID-19 Challenges”, was particularly relevant given the huge challenges and fresh opportunities presented by the pandemic.
“I am aware of the effort of the ministry in its contribution to the development of the homegrown solution, especially those to prevent and minimise effects of the pandemic on the health care system of the nation by constituting the inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19 herbal remedy and natural compound to authenticate claims of anti-COVID-19 products produced by scientists and researchers in Nigeria.
“The COVID-19 has portended huge challenges but Nigeria is confidently confronting the challenges through our researchers,” he said.
Buhari hinted that the government was working to bridge the Internet gap by increasing access to broadband connectivity with the National Broadband Plan in place. According to him, the plan is aimed at achieving 90 per cent broadband penetration by 2025 and would give special attention to unserved and underserved areas.
He urged all researchers, inventors, and innovators participating in the expo to be steadfast, saying his administration was confident that their resolve and pedigree would help Nigeria to be respected all over the world for exploit in science and technology.
Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said the ministry was working tirelessly to provide home-grown solutions to the pandemic.
According to him, some of the anti-COVID-19 products produced in the country by indigenous scientists, researchers, and traditional medicine practitioners are currently undergoing review, some of them might be on display at the ongoing expo.
He said: “The ministry has developed a strategy of Prevention, Tracking, Testing and Treatment (PT3) for short, medium and long term basis, in addition to the various Research and Development (R&D) products of some of our Research Institutes. This is to adequately respond to the pandemic and safeguard the health of our people.”