President Buhari approves strategy development for raw materials, products

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja


President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the Strategy for Competiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development in Nigeria.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced this on Monday while speaking at the opening of the Science and Technology Expo 2018 holding at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

He also announced the Science and Technology Roadmap 2017—2030, as part of effort to create a nurturing environment for technology and innovation in Nigeria, which the cabinet approved at its meeting about two weeks ago.

He said it was the intention of government to utilize the initiative to stimulate global competiveness of Nigeria’s raw materials and support the country’s ambition for a diversified economy.

“Every challenge that we face in terms of security, infrastructure deficit, financial inclusion etc is natural laboratory for the manifestation of ground-breaking, home-grown innovations,” Osinbajo said, adding that “Nigeria is a land hungry for innovation.”

Technology ecosystem

Professor Osinbajo said the Nigerian government has also planned to strengthen the science and technology ecosystem by supporting the development of new innovation hubs in partnership with the private sector.

He said the competitive selection process for the private sector entities that will implement and manage the hubs has already been completed.

According to him, each of the hubs would focus on solving the market challenges peculiar to the region of Nigeria where it is located.

Innovation Challenge

The vice president said government was collaborating with the Bank of Industry and other private sector entities to run a Presidential Technology Innovation Challenge in all Nigerian universities and some polytechnics in April this year.

He said each university winner would be invited to an award event hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Professor Osinbajo said technology hubs would be set up in universities in the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.

He said: “I think it is important also, as we do this, to celebrate the creativity and innovation of many of our young Nigerians who are doing incredible things in science and in technology, and especially in technology.  Many are writing incredible software, many are doing very creative applications in many aspects of enterprise and we must commend the excellent work that they are doing.”

Innovation and Creativity

Osinbajo said the recent launch of the “very advanced unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs,” by the Nigerian Air force showed “what is possible where there is a drive to innovate.”

He said the UAVs have shown to be some of the most creative in the world and are cutting-age unmanned vehicles.

“Before then, they had manufactured a revolutionary version of diaphragms that are used in fighter jets,” Osinbajo stated, explaining that the Nigerian Air Force was in the process of commercializing the diaphragms.

He said many countries of the world have expressed interest in buying the diaphragm.

Executive Order 5

Professor Osinbajo said the Presidential Executive Order signed by President Buhari on February 2, 2016 makes it compulsory for Nigeria to patronize local talents instead of getting it from abroad.

He said: “The important thing about this executive order is that it says, wherever there is local talent in science, technology or innovation, we cannot get that talent from abroad. So, if we are procuring any type of engineering services, technology services or science services, so long as there is local talent,  it is the local talent that must be patronized and we must not import or pay for foreign talent.”

He said the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council, under the chairmanship of the president, would ensure the implementation of the order.

According to Professor Osinbajo, the Executive Order 5 also provides for the establishment of centres of technology acquisition in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.

He said government would provide intervention funds that would strengthen research and development through training programmes and partnership in Nigerian universities, polytechnics, technical schools and trade centres.

Presidential Award

Vice President Osinbajo said the three young scientists that won the Science Secondary School Presidential Award among the 774 local government areas of the country have been given full scholarship to study up to doctorate from their present level.

He commended their creativity and competitive spirit.