The chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, Hon. Beni Lar, has pointed out that the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) holds the key to scientific discoveries that should transform this nation from a third-world to an industrialised nation.
She said this when she led other members of the committee on an oversight visit to the agency today (October 22), stressing that the agency, an advanced research complex, has the potentials of coming up with innovations that can change the nation’s technological story.
“SHESTCO, a national coordination centre for advanced academic research and specialised research in physics, chemistry, microbiology and atomic energy, is saddled with the onerous task of driving the growth of scientific knowledge in the nation that ought to ultimately transform our technological transportation.
“Nigeria does not need to depend on imports for everything. Anything that cannot be produced in Nigeria should not be imported. We have seen rice and hand sanitiser-making machines being produced here but we have not seen generators being produced in Nigeria. Nigeria should not be importing generators for our homes. SHESTCO should do the research and produce generators en masse to sell to the public, we have all it takes and the knowledge; the professors are here, they have been trained in different parts of the country, they are well exposed but the equipment is not here because the government is not funding it,” she said.
The lawmaker, however, lamented that poor funding undermines the potentials of the agency, even as she urged the complex to do more to execute its establishing Act and mandate.
Lar averred that the oversight function offers a unique opportunity for honest interaction to address the teething challenges hampering the agency’s operational existence since it was established to work towards finding the way forward.
“The legislative oversight is not a legislative fault-finding mission but a legislative-executive partnership for good governance.
“This oversight effort is not a one-off event but the first in a series of engagements. Henceforth, this committee will painstakingly ensure SHESTCO’s compliance with the necessary provisions of the constitution, such as Section 14(3) [of the] Procurement Act and other extant laws,” she added.
Earlier in his remarks, the SHESTCO director-general, Prof. Paul Onyenekwe, expressed appreciation for the visit, saying a lot had happened since the committee’s last visit to the complex.
Although he lamented the paucity of funds which have undermined the complex’s performance, Onyenekwe listed some modest achievements of the complex.
“Funding has not been all that good for us. What we do in the lab is not easily seen by the people but, through consistency, we also make ourselves known to people.
“SHESTCO staff strength is just 239 – we lost a staff. This agency is more than 20 years old and at inception, the president approved over 500 staff but only a few were employed. Since then, we have been struggling. We need more staff,” he lamented.