THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) Bill into law.
The signing into law of the NRIC Bill is one of the foremost demands of the Organized Labour during the May Day celebration. The Bill was recently passed by the National Assembly and awaiting Presidential assent.
In their joint May Day speech, the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the NRIC Bill is very vital to Nigeria’s quest for technological revolution, industrialization, human security, inclusive national development and shared prosperity.
He pointed out that research and technology was key to the nation’s quest to achieve industrialisation and technological advancement, adding that once established, the NRIC Bill has the capacity to ensure adequate funding for researchers.
The NLC president lamented the poor funding of research in the country, stressing that there was an urgent need to create the legal framework to ensure adequate funding in research institutions.
Comd. Wabba said: “Part of the broad strategy to create mass decent jobs should include very ambitious drive to develop our mining and solid minerals sector.
“Nigeria is endowed with diverse solid minerals. Unfortunately, since the discovery of crude oil in 1956, Nigeria has progressively lost its pride of place as one of the mining destinations in Africa. The contribution of solid minerals to national GDP has plummeted from 4-5% in the first two decades following independence to about 0.46% or N400 billion contributions to GDP.
“The near extinction of our mining sector has resulted to major job losses thus exacerbating Nigeria’s unemployment crisis. We call on government to fund access roads to mining sites, provide water reservoirs in mining sites and training of artisanal miners and lapidarists to enhance their value to the industry.
“It is also important for government to increase funding on the sourcing of geo-scientific data on mining resources as against the current practice of depending on aerial geo-physical survey.
“We call for the modernisation and development of solid minerals sector with a view to ensuring domestic value addition, local beneficiation and use in other industries.”
In the same vein, the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), the umbrella body of researchers in Federal Research and Development Institutions (RDIs), Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry, Allied Institutions and Centres, also called on the President to give quick assent to the NRIC Bill.
The Union in a statement by its General Secretary, Dr Theophilus Ndubuaku, said Nigeria unbelievably operates close to zero budgetary allocation to research, stressing that once signed into law, NRIC Bill will increase Nigeria’s research capacity and improve its technological base.
The ASURI general Secretary expressed concern that in most of the over 150 Nigerian Research and Development Institutions (RDIs) and centres, research and training activities are self-funded by researchers.