Science and technology can solve Nigeria’s challenges, says Onu

Ogbonaya Onu

Ogbonaya Onu

• Former ministers urge Buhari to explore sector for economic diversification
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has called for more emphasis on technology to solve the challenges facing the country.

He listed the diversification and growth of the economy, reduction of poverty and illiteracy, job creation, revitalization of the middle class, insecurity and corruption as challenges facing the country, suggesting that they could be tackled by scientific and technological knowledge.

Delivering the 2015 Post graduate lecture of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), the Minister, who was represented by the Executive Vice Chairman, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof Sanni Haruna, said as acquisition of knowledge had helped countries attain high standards of living, likewise its neglect could lead to decline of the influence of nations.

He spoke on the theme; “Post graduate training in Nigeria; Perspective for National Development”.
Onu stated that it is the quality of post graduate students produced by tertiary institutions, equipped with the necessary technological skills that would help the country meet her challenges and improve productivity by moving the nation away from a consumer to a producer nation, thereby stimulating growth of the economy.

As a blessed nation with fertile land and favourable weather conditions, it is clearly unacceptable that in the past we spent as much as one trillion naira annually on food importation. A nation that cannot feed her citizens is a country in trouble. Technology will help us feed ourselves, fight illiteracy, reduce poverty, create wealth, produce our needs locally, create new jobs and improve our capacity for export trade, thereby strengthening our economy through increased export earnings.

Technology will also help us renew the Lake Chad, stop desert encroachment in the north, recover our land from erosion in the east, clean up the polluted mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta and finally put a stop to gas flaring. To preserve our environment is not only good for us but also good for our children. We must never forget that our generation must ensure that the land we inherited from our ancestors should be preserved and handed over in good condition to future generations”, he said. To achieve these, the Minister further emphasize the need for research in the Universities such that ‘they can become world class centres of scholarship that can compete with the best centres of learning in other parts of the world”.

We cannot fail to point out that universities as centres of learning have an important role to play in solving the developmental challenges of the nation. The quality of postgraduate students we produce will help us in our search for greatness as nation. It will help prepare our nation, Nigeria, for the demands of a post oil economy’, he said.

Also, some former Ministers of Science and Technology yesterday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to give serious attention to the potentials inherit in the sector if the nation is serious about diversifying its economy away from oil.

They called on the Buhari administration to make science and technology the cornerstone for the nation’s development.
The Ministers spoke in Abuja on Tuesday when they met with Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ogbonnoya Onu.

In attendance at the interactive session were the following former Ministers: Alhaji Abdulahi Ibrahim (SAN), General (Rtd) Sam Momah, Dr. (Mrs.) Pauline Tallen, Prof. Turner Isoun, Chief (Mrs.) Grace Ekpiwehre and the immediate past minister of the ministry Dr. Abdu Bulama

Speaking on behalf of the Group, Isoun called for greater attention to the sector, which he observed had been largely neglected in recent years.

We cannot fail to point out that universities as centres of learning have an important role to play in solving the developmental challenges of the nation. The quality of postgraduate students we produce will help us in our search for greatness as nation. It will help prepare our nation, Nigeria, for the demands of a post oil economy

He called on the Minister to use his political capital for the good of Nigeria by changing the perception people have about the Ministry.
“When Ministers are appointed, the question most people ask the Minister is ‘wetin you people dey do for science and technology?’ Science and technology is an inexhaustible oil field for the future. It is inevitable to development and is the corner stone of national development. He also said technology is power. Technology is everything, everything is technology.”

They said, if properly explored, science and technology could become the nation’s inexhaustible oil for the future, the cornerstone of development and wealth creation and undoubtedly a job spinner in an unprecedented manner for teeming youths in the country.

They enjoined the minister whom they described as a ‘round peg in a round hole’ to use his wealth of experience to change the fortune of the ministry by engendering the needed attention from government and the undeserved perception from members of the public about the critical role science and technology play in national development.
Onu expressed appreciation to the former ministers for their contributions to national development in the past.

He said government was desirous of delving into the valued experience of the past ministers in the quest to ensure that science and technology assumes its rightful place as the key to solving national challenges especially the economy, security and the rule of law.

The minister solicited for the continued cooperation of the former ministers as a reservoir of knowledge since, according to him.
“It is important to know about the past to be able to move forward,” he noted.

He highlighted the enormous contributions of the sector to the nation, describing it as a special ministry with a lot to do for national development.

He said the sector was critical to the diversification the economy and able to assist the nation to move away from mono-product economy to a highly diversified economy.



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