By Stanley Iwuoha
The Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has said that the 2021 Budget of the Ministry was targeted at youths to address their various demands such as employment and wealth creation.
The Minister disclosed this when he appeared before the House Of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology for the budget defence of the Ministry in Abuja on Monday.
Dr. Onu said already about Two Thousand Five Hundred research products of the Ministry have been incubated in the market place through the National Board for Technology Incubation, an Agency of the Ministry.
He explained that the agency had also groomed many young Nigerian entrepreneurs in micro-level enterprises.
The Minister further told the committee that the various policies enunciated since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration were aimed at promoting youth’s inclusiveness in the scientific scheme of things.
According to Dr. Onu, the National Science and Technology Road Map was aimed at redirecting the economy from dependence on raw materials to one that is technology and innovation driven. The essence, he added, is to put science and technology at the centre of all economic activities.
Dr. Onu also harped on the National Policy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development which he said was designed to promote economic self-reliance for the nation.
He explained that the policy was aimed at enhancing national capacity, in a bid for Nigeria to produce globally acceptable quality raw materials, products and services.
Dr. Onu added that the Executive Order 5 of the Ministry would help promote economic nationalism by giving preference to Nigerian firms in the award of contracts of Science and technology content.
The newly introduced Methanol Fuel Production Technology, according to the Minister, would attract investment in the oil and gas sector while creating jobs for Nigerian teeming population.
He added that already, 20 private organised bodies have signified interest in partnering with the Ministry on the Methanol implementation. He added that Methanol is a wonder chemical from which 1,000 products could be produced.
Dr. Onu further disclosed that the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science Technology (NILEST) had come up with Two Thousand, One Hundred products to help Nigerian youths kick-start micro-businesses, thereby creating more employment opportunities.
The chairperson of the House committee on science and Technology, Beni Lar said the recent ENDSARS protest was a wake-up call for government agencies to come up with initiatives that would would create jobs to our teeming youths.
Beni Lar stressed the need to increase the quantum of budgetary allocation to Science and Technology sector if Nigeria was to attain economic and technological development.
She cited the case of China and other Asian tiger countries that allocated more than 20% of their budget to Science and Technology.
Beni Lar further called for a Strategic Plan to absorb the numerous graduates of Science and Engineering being produced annually by our tertiary institutions.