MINISTER of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has decried the poor state of science and technology in the country, saying that the neglect of the sector had hindered the speedy growth of the nation’s economy.
Onu, who made the remark in Nsukka, while delivering University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) 56th Founders’ Day lecture entitled: “Science, Technology and Innovation, the way Forward,” said it was as result of post-independence neglect of science and technology that made the country an oil mono economy which has hindered the speedy growth of the economy.
The minister noted: “If the country has paid adequate attention and made huge investment in science and technology since independence, the country will not have remained a mono economy and a consuming nation.
According to him: “It’s unfortunate that oil, is produced in the country and send abroad to be processed because we do not have the technology for processing it. The country spend N1 billion monthly on importation of rice because we do not have mechanised and technological driven agriculture that ensure mass production of food.”
The ex-governor further said, “the country at 56 years cannot feed its citizen of about 170 million people, whereas China that has a population of 1.4 billion people feeds its citizens and still have enough to export to other countries.”
He said countries like the United States, China, Japan North Korea and Singapore that have become industrialised and among top economies in the world achieved this as a result of adequate attention given to science and technology.
“Some of the top economies of the world are not oil producing nations but their economies are powered and sustained by science and technology. These countries apply science and technology in every sector of their economy
“They used science and technology to transform their economies and make their nations a prosperous nations. It’s unfortunate that thirty five years ago N 1 was equivalent to $1 but today, a dollar is exchanged for above N450 because the country’s over-dependence on oil only which has made it consuming nation that export nothing,” he said.
The minister who apologised for coming late to the function, however, commended the present administration led by President Muhammed Buhari, who he said had been working round the clock since assumption of office to reverse the ugly trend with determination to make the country an exporting nation.
“The present administration is doing everything within its power to see the country become a producing nation and one of the top economies in the world. Buhari is given serious attention to science and technology so that agriculture and other sectors of the economy will be technological driven.
“Very soon science and technology bank will be established in the country that will fund inventions and assist research works in technology. This bank is necessary because all over the world, science and technology cannot be fully funded from annual budget because of huge amount involved,” he said.
In his remark, the vice-chancellor of UNN, Prof Beaming Ozumba, said the founders lecture was to honour the founding fathers of the university, especially Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, who had a foresight to establish a university that has the mandate to restore the dignity of man.
“The univerisity will continue to pursue dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers which are aimed at restoring the dignity of man via academic empowerment,” he said
Earlier in his remark, the chairman of the occasion justice Peter Umeadi, described Onu as a humble, unassuming, patriotic and rare gem who does not play politics of bitterness as well as one who had contributed much to national development.
“The lecture is one who has endeared himself to so many Nigerian because of his outstanding qualities.
“I commend UNN for its continue to honours founding fathers who established this great citadel of learning, “he said
The highlight of the occasion was cutting of 56th anniversary cake.