By Henry Umahi
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, stands out in a crowd. A first class brain, his intellectual sagacity reflects on his engagements.
As a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, he gave the students and authorities something to cheer as the pioneer Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering. In 1991, he was elected the first governor of old Abia State, and subsequently, the first Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Elected Governors. As governor, he commenced work on the establishment of a Technology Village and the introduction of computers into public schools.
Now, as Minister of Science and Technology, he is doing much. Under him, the ministry has been rebranded, making it more vibrant and purpose -driven. He has established technology incubation centres to train and empower new entrepreneurs in Nigeria. He has also called for constant review of the science and technology policy to reflect the changing trends in the global world.
Under Onu’s initiative, Nigeria will soon start producing methanol in commercial quantity even as he inaugurated a committee on establishment of science data bank that would help the country in creating jobs, fighting poverty and creating wealth for the country.
While his ministry is working to apply genetic engineering and bio-technology to ensure food security, Onu set up an inter-ministerial committee that recommended the establishment of a functional urban and regional planning tribunal that would deal with the issue of buildings collapse across the country.
The minister has also vowed to deploy the use of Executive Order No 5 to boost local content, while also adding value to the natural endowments of the country. In December 2019, he charged the Projects Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu to research coal production with a view to making it less harmful to the environment.
An advocate of knowledge-driven technology, Onu recently doled out a grant of N25 million to five Nigerian academies as a token of appreciation for their contribution to national development.
Born on December 1, 1951 in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, he graduated with a First Class honours degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos. Without passing through a Master’s degree, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 1980. He is a prolific writer with many books on philosophy, technology, poetry and leadership. He is an inventor and holds six patents registered in Nigeria.