The Senate Committee on Science, Technology & Innovation, led by its chairman, Dr. Uche Ekwunife, has called on the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) chart a new economic path and prosperity for the nation.
The committee made the call today in Abuja, as it embarked on its 2022 oversight function on activities of the agency at its headquarters in Abuja.
The lawmakers, who acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the headship of the agency in the renewed efforts to chart fresh direction toward industrialisation of the country, enjoined the agency to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria’s emergence as a knowledge-based economy.
She specifically urged NASENI to deliver on its 1 per cent statutory allocation from the Federation Account which is now provided and its 0.25 per cent levy on commercial companies with turnover of N100 million to be credited to the agency soon by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as enacted in the law and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
In her opening remarks before tour of on-going projects Ekwunife said: ”The only difference between developed and under-developed countries is infrastructural development and NASENI now has the funding required to bridge that gap for Nigeria. Thus, to whom much is given, much is expected”.
She urged NASENI to remain on the frontline for industrial revolution of Nigeria and to spend funds judiciously, as there will be no excuse for failure, reiterating that the Senate believes in the capacities of the men and women in the employ of the agency.
The lawmaker said NASENI’s new status as a direct beneficiary of frontline charges in the Federation Account puts so much burden on it, as the agency is no longer in the budget system of the Federal Government but relies solely on income from the Federation Account and levy from the FIRS. She cited this development as a direct result of the president’s interest in developing the nation through science, technology and innovation.
NASENI was created in 1992 to make available in the Nigeria market, the primary and intermediate capital products required for machine and equipment design, fabrication and mass production, to provide enabling environments for sustainable industrialisation of the country.
“The legislative arm of the government is ever determined to encourage any positive step taken towards the development of science and engineering infrastructure for the socio-economic well-being of the nation,” Ekwunife said.
NASENI, she said, has shown its capacity to deliver development goods through its achievements in the production and promotion of local contents with its numerous innovations. This is why, she said, it gets huge support from the National Assembly.
She recalled that the committee had, at various times in the past, engaged the FIRS over the companies’ levy accruable to NASENI as provided by the Act establishing the agency and eventually secured application of its provision in the Act.
“It is also on record that in December 2021 the committee participated in the debates for $276.9 million Chinese loan to NASENI and eventually got the loan approved.
“Central to the visit is to ensure that public funds are expended in cost-effective and cost-efficient manner, evaluate programmes of the agency and acquisition of useful information for future policy- making and decisions,” she said.
Ekwunife revealed that the committee is interested in the success of NASENI projects, like the establishment of transformer production plant and high-voltage testing laboratory.
Also, she added that the committee will evaluate the progress recorded with NASENI’s collaboration with Indonesia on technology transfer in the areas of aircrafts’ design, spare parts’ production, military vehicles weaponry, ammunition and military vessels etc.
Responding, Haruna, who led the committee on the facility and projects tour, said that the management of the agency would do everything required to justify its new funding status as expected in the renewed journey of Nigeria towards the industrialisation having NASENI at the driver’s seat, while assuring all that the agency will not disappoint Nigeria.