From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, yesterday said government must work out extra-budgetary means of funding science, innovation and engineering in the country to maximise the potentials of the sector as the driver of the economy.
The minister, who was guest on a Radio Nigeria network breakfast programme, Politics Today, said there was urgent need to activate the National Research and Innovation Fund (NRIF), adding that a draft Bill to that effect was already with the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Onu explained that the bill, when eventually passed into law, would give legal backing to the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) headed by the president and stipulate the legislative framework for the setting up of the research and innovation fund.
“We are very serious, trying to make sure that we bring change that is permanent. And that is why we will be sending a Bill on the National Research and Innovation Council to the National Assembly to institutionalise the council. The draft Bill is now with the Federal Ministry of Justice; after their work there, it will be sent to the Federal Executive Council before it is forwarded to the National Assembly,” he said.
On the establishment of technology villages, the minister said the administration is committed to building, at least, one in each geo-political zone. He noted that the technology villages would be mainly for informal inventors and not for graduates.
Onu said the ministry would give skills to youth because, according to him, “skills are for life. Skills create wealth and very key to the diversification of the economy”.
He said the core focus of the ministry, at the moment, is to create the awareness for Nigerians to know that science and technology is critical to Nigeria’s development.