The Nigerian Government has pledged to effectively deploy science and technology in addressing the huge developmental challenges facing the nation.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Council on Science and Technology in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonanaya Onu, said the neglect of the sector by successive governments has made Nigeria a consumer nation rather than a producing and an industrialised country.
According to Onu: “Science and technology and innovation constitute the key that unlocks the door of prosperity for any nation.
“No nation has ever become great without them.”
Onu maintained that science and technology have a critical role to play in securing our nation, especially in “fighting crime, building the necessary industrial and military complex that can satisfy the important and urgent needs of our defence and intelligence community, fight corruption, educate our people and create jobs for our young and old alike”.
The minister stated further that science and technology can help “create wealth, reduce poverty, increase our capacity to on our own build our roads, generate power, build our railways as well as marine and airport”.
Onu said science and technology can also help “treat our sick in our own hospitals, manufacture locally the goods we need, provide the services that would promote tourism, improve our communication, strengthen our currency and above all secure a knowledge based, innovation driven economy that not only grows but is sustainable”.
He noted that some countries of the world that have no natural resources as much as Nigeria have deployed science and technology to become economic and technology giants, stressing that “can we imagine how developed Nigeria would be, if we can effectively deploy science, engineering, technology and innovation in the efficient exploitation of our abundant natural resources”.
Onu lamented that due to the lack of investment in science, engineering and innovation, Nigeria had become essentially “a consumer nation, unable to add value to the numerous raw materials we produce, and hence import nearly all the goods we consume. As a result of this sad development, we export jobs to other countries, make our economy vulnerable and continuously put pressure on our currency, making it weaker and weaker”.
He urged Nigerians not to be discouraged by the enormity of the nation’s problem borne out of the lack of the adequate employment of science and technology, noting that “most of the countries that today ranked among the most technologically developed had similar problems that we now have, at some time in the past. Whats is important for us is the will to succeed. I want to assure you that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to help our dear nation overcome her challenges”.
While pledging the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari government to improving on science and technology in the development of the nation, Onu said the forum, which “is designed to provide a platform for exchange of views and cross fertilisation of ideas by members to facilitate the effective utilisation of science, technology and innovation”, would help in solving many of the problems confronting our nation.