It is with happiness that standing on the sacred soil of Abuja, our Capital City, I speak to you on this very important issue. Slightly over two years ago, this Administration assumed office. We came to office at a time that our economy was in sharp decline. Many States of the Federation owed salaries to their workers. Insurgency threatened our national security. Our nation was a consumer nation that imported virtually all we needed. We produced very little. We depended on other countries for most of the food we ate. Things were so bad that we exported crude oil but imported refined petroleum products. We exported wood but imported tooth picks.
In the past two years, the President Muhammad Buhari’s Administration has worked so hard, irrespective of the drop of nearly 60 percent of our revenue, to start to change all these. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, 2017-2020 has science, technology and innovation at the center of its operation. The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), in fulfilment of its mandate, took a firm stand and is working vigorously to change our economy from resource based to knowledge based, innovation driven economy. As a part of this, a National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development in the country was developed as a national developmental strategy that would, reposition the country on the path of sustainable economic development with irreversible indigenous industrial revolution. All over the world, countries that paid sufficient attention to scientific research, development and innovation emerged as great nations. Such nations have been able to sustain their independence, develop their economy, protect their environment and guarantee their security for the happiness of their citizens. Nigeria is anxious to move from a nation with potentials, to a truly great nation respected by other countries from different parts of the world. It is in order to achieve this, that the event of today is very important. The FMST which requested the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) to host on its behalf the Secretariat of this important Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) will do all that is necessary to win the confidence of all stakeholders in the implementation of SITU so as to guarantee the success of the implementation programme.
We have carefully studied how the industrialized nations of North America & Europe as well as the emerging nations like Brazil, India, South Korea, China, Singapore and others overcame underdevelopment. They did this through scientific and technological breakthroughs made possible by extensive research and innovation in addition to the application of the succulent fruits of science and technology to nation building. This encouraged us to initiate the development and later to secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC)) on May 31, 2017 for the implementation of “The National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria’’. This national strategy is a fact-based framework designed to harness the potentials of the country’s Research & Development (R&D) institutions in partnership with Industries and Businesses, to fast-track and redirect the high-way to orderly economic recovery, double digit growth and sustainable development.
With this strategy, the nation will surely attain global competitiveness in industrial production as well as in services. We will then look forward to enhanced local and international confidence in Made-in-Nigeria products and services. Among the unique features of this home-grown National Strategy is the corresponding charting, mapping and linkages of several R&D Institutions, Industries & Businesses, Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) in line with the prioritized and sequenced projects of intervention along stratified United Nations Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) scheme. In line with the current change towards zero tolerance on corruption and the desire for prudence and frugality in management of public funds, this strategy emphasizes the globally-accepted Result-Based Management Logical Frameworks (RMLF) for the implementation of all projects & programmes.
This National Strategy, if properly implemented, will bring many benefits to our dear country. It is remarkable that for the very first time in our history, we will be in a position to achieve a strategic alliance between and among Nigerian Scientists, Entrepreneurs/Industries & Businesses with the resultant production of high-quality and competitive raw materials and products. Our dear country will then evolve a strong and highly reliable National Quality Infrastructure (NOI) upon which steady development of a demand-driven scientific industrial culture will develop and thrive. This will result in an increasing acceptability of Made-in-Nigeria (MIN) products and services both locally and internationally. As this happens, we will gradually achieve a tremendous curtailment in our high propensity to consume foreign raw materials and products. I am happy that when we achieve this new culture of consumer preferences, it will result in a significant reduction in importation. In the short-term period of 5 years implementation effort, by reducing importation by 10.8 percent, we will be able to save as much as
N3 Trillion. The reduction in importation is expected to rise to 31 percent and later 50 percent respectively in the midterm (10 years) and long-term (15 years). I am confident that this will surely boost our foreign exchange earnings and further strengthen our foreign reserves. It is important to point out that the ability to boost local content of Nigerian manufacturers and service providers to over 50 percent in the short-term and about 80 percent in the long-term will result in massive employment generation of 4.4 million high quality jobs from the 22 project areas. This successful commercialization of R&D breakthroughs arising from industry-demand driven R&D projects; in addition to appropriate changes to the curriculum of the nation’s tertiary institutions will steadily produce graduates of practical relevance to the needs of both the economy and society. The successful implementation of this strategy will lead to a stable economy. This will guarantee industrial and food security, poverty reduction and a significant decline in criminal activities.
As members of the National Consultative Committee for Competitiveness (NCCC), you have a very important role to play in the effective implementation of this National Strategy. You have been carefully chosen by your various organizations to represent them on this very important Committee. I therefore urge you all to ensure effective coordination of projects and programmes in such a way to ensure that your Agency’s mandate, as it affects this strategy is effectively implemented. You are to ensure timely project completion and adequate progress reporting, especially as it affects mandatory submission of various progress reports by the Project Implementation Desk Officers (PIDOs) of your respective MDAs and organizations. You should endeavor to co-operate and collaborate effectively with the various monitoring & evaluation specialists that will be assigned to your organizations. You should also endeavor to seek clarification from the Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) when the need arises on areas concerning the modalities of implementation.
It is therefore with happiness that I hereby inaugurate the NCCC to help drive the SITU. In this assignment, we do not have any other choice but to succeed. Our nation wants us to succeed so that Nigeria will be a producer nation and hence will no longer be a mere consumer nation where we have to import almost all the things we need. We cannot continue to depend on others forever. For us to succeed, we must all work together, all Ministries, Departments, Agencies, the Organized Private Sector, Industries and Businesses including even the informal sector of the economy. I will show keen interest in the work you do. When time permits, I will attend some of your meetings. On my part, I pledge to work as hard as is needed to ensure that success is ours. I am convinced that through the hard work and determination of all, SITU will grow, in the future, to become a globally recognized center for competitiveness driving Nigeria’s search for greatness through self-reliance.
I thank you so much. May God bless Nigeria.