From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Federal Inland Revenue Service to remit all funds due the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) as statutorily provided in the constitution to the agency.
This is even as he also directed the agency to fast-track industrial development across the country, setting a target for the manufacturing of made-in-Nigeria helicopters for them.
The President gave the directives at the opening of the meeting of the governing board of NASENI in Abuja, where he urged board members to work towards repositioning the agency to achieve its mandate.
Speaking in his capacity as chairman of the governing board of NASENI, Buhari said: “In order to realise its full potential, NASENI must be empowered through the provision of adequate financial, human and material resources and be given the autonomy and independence to forge international partnerships to acquire the relevant technologies for socio-economic and industrial advancement of the country. In this regard, I have directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Federal Inland revenue Services to commence remittances of funds approved by law to the agency.”
Vice Chairman and CEO of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, who spoke to State House Correspondents after the meeting, disclosed that the agency had been given the marching order to produce a made-in-Nigeria helicopter.
He said a lot of progress had been made in developing the helicopter.
“Every component produced is required to be certified before we can deploy. So, to fast track these important things, that is the beginning. There is a matching order to have a made in Nigeria helicopter.”
He said the board had approved the use of local materials to produce solar cells, saying that the agency already had the capacity to produce 7.5 megawatts of solar panels in its assembly plant in Karshi, Abuja with imported cells.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate and lead the deployment of a national plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.
In a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President stated this at the inauguration of a 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme (ASP) co-chaired by the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs and Education, declaring that it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in the markets, streets and workshops.
The President explained that the national plan to be deployed by the Federal Government, through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, would ensure a holistic and comprehensive inclusiveness of appropriate basic education for vulnerable children.
“To commence this special education initiative, emphasis should be given to first provide a limited scope of subjects in Mathematics, English language, Basic Science and Social studies. Gradually, the initiative will be scaled up to ensure the acquisition of relevant technical skills in the process that can enable the beneficiaries to participate in gainful economic activities,” he said.
President Buhari noted that in view of “some United Nations agencies that report a disturbing level of out of school children estimated at 13 million”, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry had identified the critical need to further address literacy inclusiveness, especially among these vulnerable children.