Provide Enabling Environment to turn around the Economy – Researchers tell Govt.
Zainab Tanimu – Kaduna
Nigerian Researchers have called on government to provide an enabling environment that could help turn around the nation’s economy. They have attributed the nation’s backwardness in Science and Technology to that of neglect on the part of government to positively utilize research outputs.
This call was made during the just concluded international conference on Research and Innovation held at Arewa House Kaduna.
Nigerian government they said has overtime invested a lot of resources into research and development but has neglected the aspect of translating the results of such researches into positive use through commercialization. Synergy between the government, research institutions and the private sector would help boost the nation’s economy as development globally is hinged on one’s technological advancement.
The minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has accused members of the National Assembly for frustrating the ban on importation of luxury vehicles into the country.
The Minister who was ably represented by the Director General , National Center for Technology Management , Professor Okechuwku Okuoma in an interview with pressmen said the lawmakers have contravened government circular which says, “Any company that is not manufacturing or assembling any vehicle in the county, no government parastatals or agencies should buy their product; but what we are seeing today is that it is still the people at the National Assembly making laws that are importing vehicles from outside the country.
Reacting to failure of the importation policy, he has this to say. If you make a policy and you are not working with it , that is what l call policy paralysis. The situation we find ourselves in this country is that, you have a policy, and you are not implementing it”. He lamented.
In her opening remarks, the Director General Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, Professor Gloria Elemo commended the composition of the organizers which she said would help give a new direction.
“The theme, ‘Diversification of Nigerian Economy Through Research and Innovation’ is apt and most appropriate especially now that the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has adopted diversification of national economy as major strategy to growing the national economy and make the nation a pride amongst the comity of nations.
“There is no doubt that we have talented researchers who have developed tons of innovative, commercial sable breakthrough s but most of these breakthroughs remain untapped for economic purposes.”
“The Multi collaboration involving eight stakeholders would promote problem solving researches and commercialization of research results”.
She said the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi is playing critical and dynamic role in industrial revelation by commercialization of R&D results through sustainable partnership with the private sector with recorded success stories.
“Our nation has depended too much on the petrodollar to the neglect of other sustainable revenue resources. No nation can truly develop by depending on one revenue resource; hence the need for diversification. The world today are rated such because of their might in science, technology and innovation which they have applied rightly for economic prosperity”.
Speaking earlier, the chairman, organizing committee Dr. Okopi Momoh said advocacy towards partnership for the commercialization of research outputs in this country has become very necessary hence the coming together of a consortium of 15 institutions, companies, and the private sector earlier in Kaduna polytechnic to fathom a way forward on commercializing the indigenous technology hence, the international conference.
The body argued that Nigeria is capable of developing its local content and that all it needs is the political will. As an advocacy plat form, it would continue to tell the government what to do.
“Not just what to do but explaining the benefits derivable from the move. The government is spending so much on research .Why is it not interested in the utilization of research outputs? If you leave your local technology completely to competition, your country would not grow”.
The conference would look at the existing government policy on local content. The problem is not with the policy but implementation. We have local content policy specifically for the Oil and Gas Industry. There is a government agency supervising that policy. This needs to be spread across board because the economy is a system and you cannot tackle economy just in one aspect and leave the other aspects fallow. It would not go down well.”
Engr. Upahi answering the question as to whether the consortium intends to roll out number of projects government would have to ban said, “Through this, the consortium would be able to know the efficiency of what we are developing, whether they are what we can actually use. By the time it is discovered, government should be able to come with policies to encourage the local manufacturers. This brings in the issue of end user. If there is going to be an end user for the research work, l bet you, government might not need to fund anything because industries would be there that would be willing to put their money to develop it because there is market for it.”
This platform of consortium of partner organizations can become a strong voice of advocacy in this direction and provide relevant advice to government. If we continue to do that, we have the firm believe that government would put in place an enabling policy, enabling environment to make sure that every research that is conducted in this country has relevance to economic development.”
The Rector, Kaduna Polytechnic, Prof. Muhammed Bugaje reiterated the importance of research and innovation saying, diversification on Nigeria’s economy through research and innovation was apt and timely. The United States technology he said was driven through the private sector pointing out that the conference would give room for interaction between the nation’s institutions and the private sectors. He called on the government to budget more fund in the area of research and put in place the necessary mechanism that would encourage research results implementation.