His Excellency, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, GCON represented President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, at the opening ceremony of the 2018 edition of TechnoExpo at Eagle’s Square, Abuja which held on 5th of March 2018. His full speech delivered at the event is shown below;
THE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DESERVES OUR COMMENDATION FOR THIS VISIONARY IDEA OF A TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION EXPO.
At home and abroad Nigerians have always demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and inventiveness. And we know that with the right environment, and policy support, there is no limit to how far Nigerian innovation can go. Equally worthy of note is the fact that Nigeria is a land hungry for innovation; every challenge that we face – in terms of security, infrastructure deficit, financial inclusion, and so on – is a natural laboratory for the manifestation of ground-breaking homegrown innovation. As part of our own efforts to create a nurturing environment for technology and innovation in Nigeria, President Buhari’s Administration has approved a new National Science, Technology and Innovation Road Map, 2017 – 2030 (NSTIR 2030) for Nigeria. We have also approved the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria. It is our intention to utilize this initiative to stimulate global competitiveness of our raw materials, and support our ambitions for a diversified economy.
In September 2016 the State House hosted the first Aso Villa Demo Day (AVDD), to showcase the innovation of emerging start-ups from around the country. Since then the World Bank has supported a batch of those innovators with grants totalling about US$3million – the first tranche of which has already been disbursed. I am pleased to note that the World Bank is committing an additional US$3million in funding for six existing technology and innovation hubs across Nigeria. In addition, the Federal Government’s plan to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of new innovation hubs, in partnership with the private sector, is well on course. We have recently concluded a competitive selection process for the private sector entities that will implement and manage the hubs. Each of these hubs will focus on solving the market challenges peculiar to the region of the country in which it is located.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY WE ARE COLLABORATING WITH THE BANK OF INDUSTRY, CIVIC HUB, AND OTHER PRIVATE SECTOR ENTITIES TO RUN A PRESIDENTIAL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION CHALLENGE IN ALL NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES PUBLIC AND PRIVATE. EACH UNIVERSITY WINNER WILL BE INVITED TO AN AWARDS EVENT HOSTED BY MR PRESIDENT AT THE VILLA. WE ARE ALSO SETTING UP TECHNOLOGY HUBS IN UNIVERSITIES IN THE 6 geopolitical zones. I think it is important to celebrate innovation and creativity of the Nigerian Military. The Nigerian Air Force has shown us what is possible where there is the drive to innovate. Only recently the Nigeria Airforce launched its very advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), before then they had manufactured a revolutionary version of diaphragms used in fighter jets. They are now in, the process of commercializing the product. Military innovation is crucial Indeed some of the most transformational technologies the world has ever seen have their origins in the military. The Internet is probably the best-known example.
Most recently, on February 2, 2018, President Buhari signed a Presidential Executive Order, and this Administration’s fifth, for the planning and execution of projects, programmes and contracts with science, engineering and technology components. The Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council under the Chairmanship of the President will ensure the faithful implementation of this Executive Order. I urge all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to align with it and ensure that the lofty intentions of the Order are met. Science and Technology are key instruments for the realization of the objectives of our National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, 2017 – 2020; our goal of moving Nigeria’s economy away from a resource-based model to a knowledge-based one. Innovation will create jobs, attract investment, boost exports and grow our economy. This is apart from the positive impact it will have on the image and perception of Nigeria around the world, and on our ability to project our soft power on the international stage.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are confident, as a Government, that Science and Technology can help Nigeria build a better future, and will continue to encourage the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to play its very important role in advancing the frontiers of Nigerian Technology. As contained in Executive Order 5, we will establish Centres for Acquisition of Technology, in each of the six geo-political zones of the country. We will also provide intervention funds that will strengthen Research and Development through training programmes and partnerships in Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics, Technical Schools and Trade Centres. Our goal is a self-confident nation, one that is able to quickly identify and take advantage of emerging opportunities in a rapidly evolving world.
The private sector has an important role to play in nurturing innovation in Nigeria, by directly investing in it, and by supporting our Universities and research institutions. Commendation must go to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, as a prime example of a company that supports innovation through its annual Nigeria Prize for Science and its collaborations with our leading Universities. We must also commend Airtell, and Sahara Energy for their support for the Aso villa demo day.
Let me congratulate our young scientists who have emerged as the best in the 774 Local Government Areas of the country. I commend your creativity and competitive spirit. I am pleased to announce that the candidates who emerged first, second and third respectively in the final examination of the recently concluded Young Nigerian Scientists’ Presidential Competition have all been granted full scholarship up to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level in any science-related discipline of their choice in any of our universities.
The future of Nigeria belongs to our youth. It is our duty, as a Government, to create the enabling environment for them to fulfil all of their potential. Much more than oil, or solid minerals, or land, Nigeria’s greatest resource is its human capital. And that human capital is embodied by our youth, tens of millions of incredibly talented men and women, constantly pushing and striving towards greatness. We will not let them down. We will harness their energy and their talent to make Nigeria stand out for its science and technology. I am confident that working together, in the pursuit of a common purpose, we shall succeed.
It is on that note that I hereby declare open this 2018 Technology and Innovation Expo.
Thank you and God bless.