Joy Mackson, Abuja
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has said that the 2021 budget of the ministry would be used to address the various demands of youths, in an effort to create employment and wealth.
The Minister made this remark when he stood before the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology to defend the proposed budget of the ministry in Abuja on Monday.
He said: “About 2,500 research products of the ministry have been incubated in the market place through the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI). The Agency had also groomed many young Nigerian entrepreneurs in micro-level enterprises.
“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,” he explained.
Dr Onu noted that the National Science and Technology blueprint was created to divert the country’s reliance on raw materials to technology and innovation: “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 stressed that the National Policy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development was designed to make the economy independent.
He explained that the policy would enhance Nigeria’s capacity to produce globally acceptable quality raw materials, products and services, adding that the contract would be given to Nigerian firms, in a bid to boost economic reliance.
According to the minister, the newly established methanol chemical fuel technology would allure immense investments in the oil and gas sector, while creating employment for unemployed youths.
“The newly introduced Methanol Fuel Production Technology would attract investment in the oil and gas sector while creating jobs for Nigerian teeming population.
Already, 20 private organised bodies have signified interest in partnering with the ministry on the Methanol implementation.” He stressed that “Methanol is a wonder chemical from which 1,000 products could be produced.”
The minister also revealed that the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science Technology (NILEST) had come up with 2,100 products to help Nigerian youths kick-start micro-businesses, thereby creating more employment opportunities.
The chairperson of the House committee on science and Technology, Honourable Beni Lar, noted that the recent #ENDSARS protest was a wake-up call for government agencies to come up with initiatives that would create jobs for the youths of the country.
Beni Lar emphasised on the need to increase the allotment of the budget allocated to the Science and Technology sector, insisting that “it will make Nigeria attain economic and technological development.”
She commended China and other Asian countries that allocated more than 20% of their budget to Science and Technology.
Beni Lar further called for a strategy to provide employment opportunities to countless graduates of Science and Engineering being produced annually by tertiary institutions.