FULL TEXT OF A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY DR. OGBONNAYA ONU, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIRST SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION SENSITIZATION FORUM AND OPEN HOUSE HOLDING AT THE FEDERAL SECRETARIAT CONFERENCE ROOM, ABUJA, ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017
It is with happiness that I welcome you all to this First Sensitization Forum and Open House of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology aimed at enlightening core directorate staff of the Ministry as well as the Chief Executive Officers of our Agencies on the novel programmes which we have initiated to deepen the depth of Science, Technology and Innovation in our nation’s development process.
It is important that as those charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing policies by the Ministry, you are acquainted with the philosophy and strategies of the various policies we have initiated to enable you, individually and collectively, become effective channels through which such new policies can be disseminated and also implemented.
As you are already aware, no nation has ever become truly great without the effective deployment of science, technology and innovation. The possession of natural resources may make a country rich. It is the ability of countries to deploy science and technology to convert such natural resources into goods and services that makes a nation rich and strong so as to become truly great.
The APC led Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to ensure that science and technology play a vital role in its effort to diversify the nation’s economy, create jobs, reduce poverty, conquer illiteracy and substantially improve our people’s standard of living.
To achieve this, we face the challenge of initiating visionary and creative strategies that will enable Nigeria move away from a resource based to a knowledge based and innovation driven economy. This will help Nigeria bridge existing technology gaps. It will also help fast track the processes that will enable her become self reliant in indigenous technology capacity, thereby stimulating a greater sense of national pride based on enduring self-reliance.
This way we can build a new Nigeria we can proudly call our own where we produce what we need and export the surplus to other parts of the world. This will enable us conserve our scarce foreign reserves and strengthen foreign trade with its multiplier benefits to our national economy. This in turn will create wealth for our country and help stimulate sustainable development for the ultimate benefit of our people.
Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is important that we all join hands to enable the Buhari Administration succeed in the new direction it is seeking to take Nigeria through science, technology and innovation. I am confident that you can help make this possible because I know you have the will, competence and drive to do so. Nigeria looks up to you all to drive these new policy thrusts we have put together. It is a duty we must perform for the sake of our children. It is also a responsibility, we must exercise for the sake of our beloved country.
The challenge facing Nigeria at this stage of her development demands that we begin today, not tomorrow, to prepare her for the post crude oil era that is not too far away. Nigeria must move her economy away from being dependent on mere commodities. She must move in the direction of diversification such that when the demand for our crude oil drops in the global market, she can absorb the shock and avoid experiencing the sort of recession we witnessed in recent times which adversely affected our economy.
As I speak, Europe and other parts of the industrialized world are preparing for a post crude oil era. Nigeria must prepare in a similar way by ensuring that immediate measures are put in place that will fast track the role of science, technology and innovation as the new driver of our economic development process. The laws of demand and supply should guide our thinking since it will become more difficult to find a suitable global market for our crude oil from those who may no longer need it in future.
The way out, is for us to embrace new measures that will create enduring and sustainable alternatives in science, technology and innovation as the tool for Nigeria’s future greatness, especially in a fast changing world. We do not have any other option. We do not even have another choice.
It is in this regard that I implore you all to lend your support; first to the new Road Map for science, technology and innovation as an important instrument that will adequately equip our economy for the numerous tasks ahead. It will also help it adjust to the path of sustainable growth so as to quicken the pace of recovery from recession and stimulate growth in the economy.
Secondly, we have conceptualized the novel National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria. This is aimed at addressing the challenge of developing and implementing effective policies and strategies that will stimulate economic diversification and promote industrialization in an irreversible manner. This is informed by the fact that any economy that is not diversified, which is dependent on the importation of raw materials will find it difficult to confront the challenges of the growing shifts in global production and trade patterns.
It is therefore our intention to deploy this strategy so as to help Nigeria conserve her scarce foreign exchange and stimulate global competitiveness that is derived from a diversified economy. This will help the development of domestic capacity in such a way that our country will reduce her dependence on imports as a measure to help insulate our economy from avoidable external shocks.
I am very happy to inform you that the Federal Executive Council has approved a new and revolutionary Policy Guidelines for the Design and Execution of Programmes, Projects and Contracts with Science, Engineering and Technology Components. This is the first of its kind in our dear country. Its implementation will strengthen and deepen the role of science, technology and innovation in the future Development Goals of Nigeria. It will help create a new nation that guarantees that Nigerians will be prosperous and happy, while Nigeria will be strong, wealthy and respected by other nations.
This will help Nigeria promote national self reliance by promoting a radical shift in emphasis toward entrenching science, technology and innovation as an invaluable component of virtually all strata of our national development process. It is designed to ensure that we promote local content, encourage indigenous technology capacity, drastically reduce capital flight, strengthen local manpower development, enhance global competitiveness and restore national pride.
Distinguished ladies and Gentleman, I am confident that with these new measures Nigeria shall succeed. She cannot afford not to do so for the sake of humanity. We have the capacity to do so. We have the human resource to enable us meet our manifest destiny in the comity of prosperous democracies of the world. I therefore, urge you to listen attentively to the various resource persons who have been chosen to speak to you on the issues I have mentioned in the course of this speech. I am confident that you will find their explanations helpful and illuminating. This will help you better understand what these programmes entail and what you are expected to do to help our beloved country benefit from them. I urge you to rededicate yourselves to the challenge of building a better Nigeria where though tribe and tongue may differ, in brother hood we must continue to stand.
I urge you all to be resolute in sharing with me, the strong faith that working together, we can redirect the Nigerian vehicle toward a new destination of enduring prosperity, resilient economic buoyancy, social harmony with a truly diversified economic base that is sustainable and competitive. Science, technology and innovation is the key. It has been the missing key in our drive for national development in the past 56 years after independence. Now that we have fund it, I am confident that we can use this important key to open the door of prosperity for our citizens. I am convinced that if we bond and work together as members of one family, we shall succeed. The future is bright.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA
THANK YOU SO MUCH