By Celestine Ajayi
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, says his ministry is determined to accelerate the pace of industrialisation of Nigeria, to create wealth for citizens.
Onu, who made this known on Tuesday, in Abuja, when a delegation of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) paid him a courtesy visit, disclosed that his ministry had developed six policies that were critical for the industrialisation and transformation of Nigeria to a knowledge-based economy.
He cited Executive Order 5, as one of the policies that would make Nigeria achieve what China had achieved in the past 30 years, blaming the low pace of Nigeria’s industrialisation on the country’s weak technological base.
“Nigeria has all it takes to accomplish what China has done, but we cannot do it without the input of science and technology. We want to strengthen the technological base of our nation so that we can rapidly and quickly industrialise the country,” he said.
According to the minister, one way to achieve this was by building a capital goods industry, because the industry was still very weak.
“It is virtually non-existent in the country; therefore, it is of extreme importance that we find a way, very quickly, to ensure that the capital goods industry is built.
“When this is actualised and put in place, it will catalyse and accelerate the process of industrialisation ,” Onu said.
The minister noted that as a result of the lack of capital goods, all sorts of equipment ranging from household appliances to hospital and transportation, among others, were imported into the country.
He said with the availability of funds, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) would play a leading role in ensuring that all six geopolitical zones in the country had capacity.
“We will build the infrastructures that will enable us and it is the engineers that will play this role in capital goods.
“We will make sure that all these machines and equipment that we bring into the country shall henceforth be manufactured here in the country,” the minister said.
He further said that NASENI would focus on Research and Development, while the private sector would be brought in to participate from the beginning.
Onu stressed the need for collaboration, so that it would be easy to pull and use available resources in a very efficient manner.
“This is the vision that we have for the future because we believe that in the next 12 to 24 months, that this can be achieved,” he said.
The minister was emphatic that once Nigeria started manufacturing capital goods, she would be able to produce other things, including ships, aeroplane, helicopters and sophisticated equipment.
He commended the NSE for their contributions to the economic development of the nation, especially the scholarships awards by the NSE to brilliant Nigerian students and other noteworthy achievers of the group. .
Onu urged engineers to continue to work closely with the government, stressing that the ministry was working together with relevant organisations, societies, among others, towards Nigeria’s greatness.
Earlier, Engr Babagana Mohammed, President of the NSE, had appealed for direct collaborations with the ministry, and its relevant agencies, to enable them achieve their projects.
He also appealed for inclusion of the Executive Order 5 in the national procurement process, to facilitate its full implementation.