Cultivate Interest In Science, Tech, Innovation Among Youths, Nnaji Urges Stakeholders

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L-R: Teacher, Unity Senior College, Lagos State, Mr. Peter Tunde, a Unity Senior College student and first position winner of Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award examination, Abdulrahman Fadlullahi and permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Mrs. Esuabana Nko-Asanye during the presentation of certificates in Abuja.

In a resounding call to action, the Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji, emphasised the imperative for stakeholders in the field to cultivate an early interest in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) among young minds.

Nnaji delivered this charge during the 2024 edition of the 774 Young Nigeria Scientist Presidential Award (774 YONSPA), held at the ministry headquarters in Abuja.

Represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mrs. Esuabana Nko-Nsaye, Nnaji underscored the programme’s aim to inspire students to embrace science subjects and consider careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. The initiative is part of the ministry’s “catch them young” approach, designed to foster the interest of young Nigerians in sciences. Nnaji stressed the critical role of science in shaping every aspect of life, emphasising its potential to elevate living standards and drive economic growth and development.

Moreover, Nnaji revealed that the ministry, in alignment with Executive Order NO 5, is actively advancing STEM education in Nigeria. The ministry is particularly keen on taking science education to the grassroots level, promoting the teaching of science subjects in local languages.

Highlighting President Bola Tinubu’s renewed agenda, with a focus on innovation in areas such as industrialisation, digitalisation, creative arts, manufacturing and innovation, Nnaji stressed the significance of human capital as Nigeria’s greatest resource. He expressed confidence in harnessing the energy, potential and talent of the youth to propel Nigeria towards true greatness.

“As the main stakeholder in the science, technology, and innovation sector, we want to see more and more students pursuing science courses. The more we invest, the more research will be conducted at tertiary institutions, leading to more inventions and innovations,” Nnaji declared. He urged stakeholders to join in motivating students by providing incentives that support their pursuit of science courses and careers.

Nnaji announced that winners of the competition would receive cash awards and a presidential handshake during the opening ceremony of the Science, Technology & Innovation Expo on March 11, 2024, in Abuja. He encouraged the participants not to give up but to work harder towards achieving landmarks in the field of science.

He further emphasised the potential of the participants, stating, “You all have the potential to become Nobel laureates, but it takes sacrifice and perseverance.” Nnaji highlighted a recent initiative to encourage and support Nigerians with innovations through the Innovation Innovations programme.

Acknowledging the competition as a platform for students to interact and collaborate, Nnaji urged them to recognise the power of collaboration. He emphasised that collective efforts would lead to greater achievements in the field of science and technology.

Speaking to the significance of sowing seeds in the science, technology, and innovation sector, Nnaji emphasised that these efforts would yield innovations in the future. He expressed confidence in the brilliant students, who, with continued study and dedication, would become the great scientists of their time.

The permanent secretary, Mrs. Esuabana Nko-Nsaye took the opportunity to thank teachers for imparting knowledge to students and encouraged them to continue making a positive impact.

In his remarks, the chief examiner, Prof. Unoh Unoh stressed the importance of teaching not only to pass exams but also to ensure that students understand and apply the knowledge, especially in terms of bringing about innovation. The results of the competition revealed that the first position went to a student from Lagos State with 62.5 per cent, while the second and third positions were secured by students from Ogun State and the FCT, both scoring 62 per cent.

The Commissioner of Science, Technology and Innovation in Enugu State, Prince Lawrence Eze encouraged students to focus on personal development to become better individuals.

The best student from Unity Senior College in Lagos State, Abdurrahman Fadlullah expressed gratitude to the ministry and teachers for the opportunity and support provided during the eighth edition of 774 YONSPA 2024.

Oluchi Okorafor
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