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Reps Call For Increased Budgetary Allocation For Science & Tech Complex

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SHESTCO
The chairman, House Committee on Science Engineering, Hon. Inuwa Garba (second from left) and the director-general, Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Prof. Paul Onyenekwe flanked by other committee members and SHESTCO management staff when the lawmakers paid an oversight visit to the complex headquarters in Abuja.

The House of Representatives has called for increased budgetary allocation to enhance research at the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO).

Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Engineering, Hon. Inuwa Garba made this call during an oversight visit to SHESTCO, expressing concern over the complex’s condition due to inadequate funding.

Garba emphasised the importance of research in driving global development, stating that Nigeria should not lag in science and technology advancements. “Research is the bedrock of every development in the world and Nigeria must not be left behind,” he asserted. He noted the organisation’s substandard state due to government negligence, which requires urgent attention.

“There is significant investment here in SHEDA, but because of government negligence, the organisation isn’t up to standard. This place needs immediate government attention,” Garba remarked. He underscored the need for a robust and effective budget system to aid the efficiency of the research institute.

“We have observed various departments in SHEDA and are honestly not impressed. As a research institute, the government should ensure a robust and effective budget system to aid efficiency. We see billions worth of investment here, but nothing is happening. We will discuss with the other committee, to see how we can partner with the director-general and the management of SHEDA to determine what the House of Representatives can do as legislators. We aim to partner with the Ministry of Science and Technology to make this place work,” Garba stated.

The lawmaker highlighted the global trend in science and technology and stressed that Nigeria should not be left behind. “Science and technology are driving global research and development. Without research, there is no development and without development, there is no positive change. Nigeria, with over 200 million people, must take this seriously,” he said.

Garba outlined a plan to address the issues by identifying the problems, deliberating on solutions and engaging with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the House of Representatives. “We need to identify the problems, deliberate on models, then go back to the ministry and the House of Representatives to discuss and engage the ministry representing the federal government,” Garba explained.

Director-general of SHESTCO, Prof. Paul Onyenekwe expressed that the organisation operates with insufficient manpower, which is a major challenge. “We are collaborating with many universities to tackle the manpower shortage by utilising some of their lecturers to design and work and also apply for funds,” Onyenekwe said.

He highlighted their collaboration with the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, where numerous pilot plants have resulted from research conducted at SHESTCO. He also called for electric power support to maintain the equipment in the organisation.

“Our key request is electric power because we have a lot of equipment that we switch off and on, which shouldn’t be the case as it affects the memory system. Ideally, equipment should be put to sleep rather than switched off,” Onyenekwe explained.

He pointed out the manpower shortage, stating that the complex has only about 320 staff, with only 50 per cent being technicians, researchers, and technologists. “I have tasked the engineers and technologists to troubleshoot any equipment issues, enabling us to know exactly what’s wrong,” he added.

The SHESTCO boss reiterated their collaboration with universities to address the manpower gap and secure funding from sources like TETFUND, which finances most university research. “SHESTCO cannot directly source funds from TETFUND as it is not a university, but we can collaborate with universities to obtain funding. This collaboration has already begun,” he concluded.

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