We welcome the new focus of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology on bridging the gap between theory and practical application of the findings of the nation’s research institutes. The ministry, under the leadership of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, recently entered into a partnership with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to commercialise the findings of the research centres.
We believe this step holds the key to unlocking the nation’s vast potentials in research and development. It is, indeed, a very good initiative and we advise that the partnership with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce should be extended to similar organizations nationwide. Such cooperation between the research institutes and the industrial sector will help to take our research findings off the shelves into the industries where they can be commercialized and made widely available to the people at a reasonable cost. It will also help to address the issue of funding which has been partly responsible for the non-commercialisation of research findings over the years.
As a result of inadequate attention to research in Nigeria, many of our research findings are gathering dust on the shelves of various universities, polytechnics, and the over 17 research centres in different parts of the country.
The resolve of the Ministry of Science and Technology to work with the chambers of commerce on this issue should help to change this situation. If the partnership is made to work, the ministry should be the hub of new efforts to wean the country from its present over-dependence on oil and diversify its economy. There are huge potentials in Nigeria’s industrial sector, and we call for total support for the Ministry of Science in its efforts to change the country’s story in this regard.
In this march to commercialise the findings of our research agencies, every step counts. That is why we commend the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, (FIIRO), which recently sealed a partnership deal with NASCO in Jos, Plateau State, for the production of high nutrient biscuits to be used in the government’s school feeding programme. The product, which is one of FIIRO’s research findings, is made using 100 percent raw materials and technology, thus having the potential to create jobs and boost the local economy, while also improving the nutritional status of Nigerian children. The positive impact of this single research will be fully appreciated when it is replicated in many other sectors of the economy.
This is the direction we want to see the country go and we are happy that the ministry saddled with this responsibility is waking up from its slumber. Research and development is the main vehicle through which most of the advanced countries, as we know them today, made a difference for their countries. Nigeria’s story should not be different.
Going forward, we call for the rating of our research institutions according to their research findings and the extent to which these findings have been commercialised. This strategy is not exactly novel as it has served many advanced countries very well. lvy League institutions like Harvard, Yale and Cornell, to name a few, earned and sustain their reputations with Research & Development.
When this becomes the template of engagement, a number of the problems facing our tertiary institutions will be a thing of the past. No government can provide the level of funding required by research and tertiary institutions alone. What they desperately require is the support to turn their research findings into marketable products and cash. This would guarantee more research, encourage the staff and students of the various institutions and ultimately engender all round development for the country.
Boosting the research and development environment in our tertiary and research institutions will translate to industrialisation for the country. It has been argued with merit that the goal of diversification of the economy can only be achieved when agricultural products and mineral resources are harnessed into industries for the creation of value-added products for both the domestic and export markets.
We commend Dr. Onu and the Ministry of Science and Technology for promoting this collaboration between research agencies and the industrial sector. The success of the initiative will restore hope in the nation’s dream of becoming highly industrialized and economically stable.