The executive vice chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, has given the rationale behind the agency’s current drive to collaborate with state governments to promote science infrastructure and engineering development.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists during the Appreciation and Award Day Ceremony organised by the Joint Action Congress (JAC) comprising of all trade unions in NASENI at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja, he said it is in response to the directive of the chairman, NASENI Governing Board, President Muhammadu Buhari, to the agency to deploy and step down the many breakthrough interventions of the agency so it can benefit the Nigerian populace.
“We have partnerships with states across the nation. We’ve been interacting with the governors’ forum which is a special directive to us by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the chairman, governing board of NASENI. He said the impact of all our achievements will be lost if we are not collaborating with the state governors such that the rural populace can benefit from the successes we have achieved.
“We are collaborating and the governors are willing, they have been supporting, we have a standing committee between NASENI and the governor’s forum, which is also directed by the National Economic Council under the chairmanship of the vice-president of Nigeria. So, there is a harmonious working relationship and a common goal between NASENI and the governors,” he said.
The NASENI boss further pointed out the need to bridge the gap between the industry, the academia and research institutes, adding that the agency tries to carry both the industries and the academia along in its activities.
“The approach of NASENI is to bridge gaps in the socio-economic development of the country. We have commenced certain strategic research and development, working with the private sector, so that from the design of the research the problem we want to address we know which private sector must produce that in commercial quantity to meet the demands of the nation,” he stated.
Also speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the event, the governor of Cross River State, Prof. Benedict Ayade, who was conferred with the Award of Excellent Performance, underscored the importance of collaborative efforts to develop states using science, technology and innovation.
The governor recalled his efforts and support both at National Economic Council (NEC) and Nigeria Governors Forum to ensure NASENI was given its right place in providing technical solutions and strategic direction needed to transform the country’s economy.
Ayade affirmed his belief in the ability of NASENI to serve as the lead agency to harness Nigeria technologies potential with the recent NEC approval of one (1) per cent of the Federation Account for NASENI.
According to him, Nigeria has no option other than industrialisation through building local capacity and or domestication of technologies, to create jobs and reduce poverty.
“Until research, science, technology and infrastructure development form the bedrock of Nigeria’s economic development strategy, Nigeria has not attained true independence. I am in support of NASENI and that’s why I came personally to receive this award, I put so much value on this award. What Nigeria had in 1960 as political independence is not complete until the country ends her over-dependence on foreigners for everything. Nigeria’s true independence hinges on self-reliance in science, research and infrastructural development,” he said.
Similarly, the chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Hon. Beni Lar, who also bagged the Outstanding Legislator Award, lauded NASENI for its reliability in terms of execution of projects and judicious dispensation of funds, even as she expressed confidence the agency would judiciously dispense the one per cent funding from the Federation Account once it starts coming to the agency.
“I must say that in the case of NASENI we have seen that, over the years, they judiciously used what they are given and I believe that this one per cent which has been generously released to them by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and President Muhammadu Buhari, I believed that it will be judiciously used because they have a budget for it and the National Assembly has reviewed the budget and approved it.
“I know that going by their records they have always judiciously expended above and beyond what is expected of them,” she added.