Nigeria’s failure to make education, training, science, technology and innovation topmost priorities continue to be the bane of her ability to compete globally.
Rather, Nigeria since 2013 has barely focused on the development of physical capital in terms of market size, labour market and macroeconomic environment.
Professor Joel Babalola of the department of Educational Management, University of Ibadan, identified these imperatives while presenting a paper titled, “Nigerian recent socioeconomic policies: How much priority to skills, science, technology and innovation,” at the NISER Ibadan seminar series.
Presenting his findings, Babalola noted that the bottommost in Nigeria’s agenda for development, since 2013, has been infrastructure, innovation, health, primary education, higher education, training, technological readiness.
While global attention shifted in response to the demands of the fourth industrial revolution, he decried the Nigerian government, in 2018 and 2019, continued to give the least attention to ICT adoption, innovation capacities, building skills, infrastructure and developing institutions.
For the nation to match up with the global world, Babalola stressed the need for the federal government to widen access to qualitative basic, secondary and higher education required to apply knowledge and technologies to solve local problems.
In particular, Babalola stressed that Nigeria should clear its deficits in institutions and infrastructure to engender the adaptation and application of knowledge, technology and innovation locally.
Noting the nation’s vast potentials, he added that the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration should strategically prioritise indigenous knowledge, technologies and innovation for socio-economic development.
In an analysis of Buhari’s change agenda 2015-2020, Babalola decried that education was not listed among the nine issues that are insecurity, Niger Delta, revenues decline, corruption, power, de-industrialisation, unemployment, governance cost and agriculture/solid mineral.
Even in the Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), Babalola bemoaned that human capital was not listed.
Pointing out that the nation was bound to grow faster if the technology was allowed to turn knowledge into innovations, he, therefore, harped on the need for the federal state governments to invest in skills, science, technology and innovation to enhance the spread of national prosperity.
Chairman of the event, Professor Bankole Oni also bemoaned that the Nigerian government paid little attention to the development of human capital.
Making reference to the Biafra war, he noted that the nation, for instance, would have greatly advanced if it studied and adapted the technology that sustained Biafra for 30 months.
In his remarks, Director General, NISER Ibadan, Dr Folarin Gbadebo-Smith emphasised that entrepreneurship, informal education, skill were key to the sustainable development of the country.