The Federal Government has directed the National Economic Council to come up with modalities for actualising the implementation of the 0.5 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) dedicated to science, technology and innovation (STI) research and development in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known during his address at the opening ceremony of the seventh edition of the Science, Technology and Innovation expo themed “Actualising effective diversification of the Nigerian Economy through Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)” today (January 16, 2023) in Abuja.
President Buhari recalled that the decision to dedicate 0.5 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP to research and development was made during his speech at the fifth edition of the STI expo 2021 in tandem with the decision made by the African Union Executive Council in 2006 to establish a target for all member states of 1 per cent GDP.
Represented by his chief of staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Buhari added that Nigeria, however, decided to dedicate 0.5 per cent having come to terms with the challenges of this critical sector of the economy to fast track meaningful development.
“As a government, since we took over power in 2015, we demonstrated our love and desire to diversify our economy by the application of the science, technology and innovation through improving the budgetary allocation of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation whose budget before then was so meagre that it could not have achieved any meaningful economic development.
“We also realised the important role played by science, technology and innovation (STI) in socio-economic development and have, for the first time, convened the National Research and Innovation Council meeting which focuses on building local capacity to compete favourably with scientifically advanced economies through refined processes for funding research and innovation in the country.
The president further congratulated the winners of this year’s 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774-YONSPA). He commended their creativity and competitive spirit toward their academic pursuit to become future scientists, engineers and technologists to better the lot of the nation.
“I am pleased to announce that the candidates who emerged first, second and third, respectively, in the final examination of the recently concluded 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award Competition have all been granted full scholarship up to the doctorate level in any science-related discipline of their choice in any of our universities.
“It has been the practice of my administration to award scholarships since the maiden edition of the Science, Technology and Innovation Expo in 2017, to the three best students,” he stated.
Also, Buhari underscored the important role of the private sector, saying it cannot be overemphasised in nurturing innovation in Nigeria, hence, “government has been partnering with them in investing directly as well, as our universities and research institutions to carry out research in areas of greatest needs for the nation.
“We have also commenced partnership with state governments in each of the six geopolitical zones where our technology and innovation centres are established to serve as a hub/forum to bring together all stakeholders in the science, technology and innovation ecosystem to chart the way forward on the utilisation of both mineral and human resources for global competitiveness, which I believe will help in our industrialisation challenges in this 21st century,” he added.
Buhari further urged researchers, inventors and innovators participating in today’s expo to be resolute, as his administration is confident that their R&D outputs will make Nigeria a truly great nation respected globally for its exploit in science, technology and innovation.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Momora said STI constitutes the foundation and driving force in the industrial leadership of nations and business entities as well as economic success on the global scale.
The minister stated that countries who have made significant progress towards sustainable economic development owe their successes to significant investments in STI, which ensure uninterrupted increase in productivity and possibility of equitable and sustainable industrial development.
“As part of the Federal Government’s resolve to effectively deploy STI in the diversification of the nation’s economy, the current administration at the Techno Expo 2021 declared that a minimum of 0.5 per cent of the nation’s GDP would be dedicated to research and development that would guarantee continuous productivity and sustainable industrial development of Nigeria. This is a great achievement for Nigeria’s STI ecosystem and, as major stakeholders, work has commenced on strategies for attaining the implementation of the 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for improved R&D in the country towards meeting industrial and economic demands,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikoh elucidated that the ministry is committed to ensuring that STI is used to drive economic growth and development of the country due to its strategy of encouraging commercialisation of research and development products and services.