By Sodiq Omolaoye
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has urged Nigeria to look inward for local solutions to the country’s economic and security problems. Onu said this at the 20th meeting of the National Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (NCSTI) with the theme ‘Achieving Nigeria’s competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation’ which was held in Abuja. He said Nigeria must learn from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine as well as the experience of the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown clearly that Nigeria must effectively utilize science, technology and innovation to protect its territorial integrity. He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has also taught every country the importance of self-reliance, adding that “every nation through research and innovation uses locally available raw materials to make products that are of great importance to the sustainability of its economy”.
Onu said Russia’s status as the largest exporter of wheat in the world may affect Nigeria if it does not look inward for an alternative. “The adverse effect in the anticipated shortfall in imported wheat for bread production arising from this war can be ameliorated by utilizing research and innovation work already carried out in the Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).
“FIIRO through research and innovation has produced bread of comparable quality with 20 per cent substitution of cassava flour for wheat. Hence, working with 80 per cent wheat and 20 per cent cassava flour, Nigeria can make substantial savings through reduction in wheat import and yet produce bread of comparable quality for use by our citizens,” he said.
The minister noted that many of the policies initiated by the ministry and approved by the Federal Executive Council have contributed to improving Nigeria’s global competitiveness ranking. Quoting the World Economic Forum, Onu said Nigeria’s global competitiveness ranking improved from the position of 124 out of 140 countries in 2016 to a position of 115 out of 140 countries by 2019.
He added that the patents facilitated by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), contributed about 65 percent of the total patents generated in the country.
“This is a clear indication of the contributions of the ministry to innovation in the country, in an effort to enhance the speedy industrialization of the nation”, he said.