FULL TEXT OF A WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, DR. OGBONNAYA ONU, HOLDING AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE FEDERAL SECRETARIAT COMPLEX, ABUJA, ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017
Gentlemen of the Press,
I am happy to address you today on very important developments in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
As you may be aware, just recently, I addressed the core directorate staff of my Ministry on some of the novel programmes we have initiated with the aim of effectively utilizing science, technology and innovation in Nigeria’s development process. I mandated them to acquaint themselves with the philosophy and strategies of these various programmes to enable them become effective channels through which such new policies can be properly disseminated and effectively implemented.
In doing so, I drew their attention to the determination of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to use science and technology as the centerpiece for realizing the national economic recovery and growth plan 2017 – 2020. This means that science, technology and innovation is the new driver that will help diversify the nation’s economy, create jobs, reduce poverty, conquer illiteracy and significantly improve the standard of living of Nigerians. By so doing, we are working for the prosperity and happiness of our people and the greatness of our nation.
Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the new world order that is unfolding indicate that the end of the crude oil era may not be too far away. Indeed, many countries in Europe and some other parts of the industrialized world are moving in a direction which suggest that in the near future, the demand for crude oil will reduce significantly. Nigeria must prepare adequately and quickly too, for the challenges which such a situation will create for her economy, especially when it is realized that she is dependent on crude oil as the mainstay of her economy. We should never forget that in the past, certain commodities that played such a dominant role as crude oil, due to advances in technology, lost their pre-eminent role. Sugar is a good example. Today, in many countries, particularly in the Caribbean, abandoned sugar refining factories can be seen. Those countries, at that time, whose economies depended mainly on sugar suffered greatly when demand for the commodity fell sharply. It is, therefore, with this in mind that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology has initiated bold and visionary new policies that will help move our economy in the direction of diversification such that when the demand for crude oil drops in the global market, we can absorb the shock and avoid experiencing the trauma of recession which has always adversely affected our economy. We must start now, not later, to prepare for a post crude oil era. This is important, not just for us, but for our children.
To enable us achieve this, Nigeria should put in place measures that will enable her emerge a nation that can produce what she needs and export the surplus to other parts of the world. This will strengthen our foreign reserves and boost foreign trade with its multiplier benefits to our national economy. This is the only reasonable way to go. Indeed, we do not even have a choice if we must be the great nation, which we deserve.
It is in this regard that we have conceived the new Road Map for Science,
Technology and Innovation, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to become the new key that will help open the door for Nigeria’s future sustainable development. This Road Map when implemented, will help the economy adjust to the path of sustainable growth such that it will quicken the pace of recovery in the short term and accelerate sustainable growth in the economy in the medium and long terms.
We are convinced that the new Road Map will help Nigeria deepen the processes of effectively deploying science, technology and innovation as the engine of growth in a diversified economy. This will help our great nation move in a new, difficult but ultimately rewarding direction that will help us make a major shift from a resource based to a knowledge based, innovation driven economy.
Secondly, we have put together a novel National Strategy for Promoting Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria. Already the Federal Executive Council has approved it. It is intended to confront and defeat the challenges posed by growing shifts in global production and trade patterns. This will help Nigeria conserve her scarce foreign exchange and stimulate global competitiveness that is derived from a resilient domestic capacity in a diversified economy for the good of all.
It is also noteworthy that the Federal Executive Council has also approved the new Policy Guidelines for the Planning and Execution of Programmes, Projects and Contracts with Science, Engineering and Technology Components. This is revolutionary and is the first of its kind in Nigeria. This will help our nation develop the necessary local capacity needed for us as a people to look inwards to seek solutions to our numerous problems. We cannot continue to depend on others to meet our needs. Nigeria has come of age. We cannot continue as the child that refused to grow up and continues to suck the breast of the mother beyond the time that is acceptable. We cannot continue to be a nation of mere consumers. We must start producing. We must be a nation that produces and consumes. It is in order to achieve this, that the guidelines are designed to drastically reduce capital flight, promote local capacity, strengthen local manpower development, encourage indigenous technology capacity, enhance national self reliance and restore national pride.
I am confident that its implementation will strengthen and deepen the role of science, technology and innovation in Nigeria’s journey to build a modern economy that will create a new nation of stronger global acclaim in the comity of prosperous democracies of the world.
Most distinguished gentlemen of the Press, I am confident that with these new policies, when fully implemented, science, technology and innovation will do for Nigeria what it has done for other countries. The future is bright. The road we are taking is long and difficult but the huge task can be accomplished and the goal achieved. I am confident that this new road we are taking will help Nigeria take her rightful place in the comity of prosperous democracies of the world. We should never forget that the true greatness of nations, from ancient to modern times, has always been determined by how effective science and technology was deployed as an instrument for nation building.
I am confident that our dear nation in utilizing these novel programmes will become better and stronger for the happiness and prosperity of our people. In order to achieve this, all Nigerians: young and old, rich and poor, whether in the public or private sector must work together. This is a journey that we all must go together, for no one should be left behind. This is a journey that will bring greatness to our country. I am confident that we shall succeed.
I thank you so much
MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA