A science and technology-themed exhibition has commenced in Enugu with a reassurance from President Muhammadu Buhari that his administration was committed to the creation of an intervention fund to support research in science and technology in the country.
He gave the reassurance on Monday (14/1/2019) while declaring open the 2019 Technology and Innovation Expo organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology with the theme, “Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth”.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, president Buhari said that the move was borne out of his conviction that the country needed the application of science and technology to achieve prosperity.
He disclosed that the importance attached to science and technology has led his administration to apply same in the crystallisation of the country’s growth plan 2017 – 2030.
Commending the efforts so far made by the federal ministry of science and technology in the advancement of technology, the president said it had resulted in job creation and capacity development.
According to him, it has developed key policies in the sector, including a National Strategy for Promoting Competiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in the country.
He said that efforts by his administration to achieve national growth through science and technology would not materialise without the participation of the private sector.
In a keynote address, the Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, said that the event became necessary following the growth in the level of creativity and inventiveness in Nigerians.
He noted that tremendous progress had been made in the area of commercialisation of research findings, saying: “Many of our research findings are now products available in the market place for our people to buy and use, because we make sure that our researches focus on urgent national needs.”
The minister said that there were strong indications that science and technology could do for Nigeria what it had done in countries like India, China, South Korea and others.
He added that , “Already, the number of patents secured with the assistance of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion in 2018 rose significantly.”
According to him, his optimism drew from the fact that the number of patents obtained by Nigerians in 2018 rose to 55 as against six received in 2015.
The minister went further to say that many of the agencies under the supervision of the ministry had made important contributions to job creation. “As a result of their research findings aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial development, many start-up businesses have sprung up in different parts of the country.
He opined that with adequate funding, the ministry could help the country create millions of new jobs and that the country under Buhari was moving in a new direction aimed at building a knowledge-based economy that is innovation driven.
“In this way, we are deploying science, technology and innovation to convert our numerous natural resources into products that we need and can export,” he said.
“Our goal is to ensure that any Nigerian who wants to work is gainfully employed. Every Nigerian is a major player and doing so will reduce poverty in the country”, Onu stated.
He advised inventors to always approach the National Agency for Technological Acquisition and Promotion (NATAP) to apply at no cost for patent rights to protect their intellectual property.
“You need to protect your intellectual property and we have one of our agencies NATAP; if you have a technological idea you want to promote, you go to NATAP and the agency will help you protect and promote it. I don’t think it will cost you money when you approach them, ” he advised.
The minister, who said it was the first time the expo was outside Abuja, pointed out that it would be an annual event to be held in all the geo-political zones.
“I was at PRODA’s stand in Abuja Expo. And somebody came who had wanted to travel abroad to buy one particular equipment. But to the person’s greatest surprise, PRODA had the same facility that ordinarily, the man would have paid transport including the inconvenience of going abroad and all that. But the man said look, I will be coming to buy the equipment from PRODA. That is the spirit and the type of thing we’re encouraging,” according to Onu.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State commended the federal ministry of science and technology for organizing the event. He explained that his administration has done a lot in the area of science and technology and has established measures to make Enugu State a science and technology hub in the South-East.
Participants at the four-day event were drawn from research institutions, government agencies, private organisations and students.