The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said Nigeria recognises and encourage young students who have distinguished themselves in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) because they hold the key to the socio-economic development of the nation.
He made this known during the presentation of certificates to the three best students that emerged champions at the Young Nigeria Scientists Presidential Award (YONSPA) in Abuja.
The outstanding students – Maryam Ogunbayo (Pen Resource Academy Gombe) clinched the first position, Gbolahan Ayinde (African Church Grammar School, Ogun) bagged the second position and Uchendu Judith (UNIBEN Demonstration Secondary School, Edo) came third.
Onu, who revealed that the Federal Government will sponsor the education of the trio to the doctorate level in any university of their choice in Nigeria, underscored the importance of catching them young especially in STEM.
Stressing the importance of encouraging students to develop an interest in STEM, Onu explained they are key to unlocking the numerous natural resources Nigeria is blessed with.
“We are challenging all Nigerian youths through YONSPA to show interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is because we are interested in making them take careers in STEM. Nigeria is blessed with virtually all the mineral resources in the world and with the requisite knowledge and skills we will be able to develop these resources and put them into use. This will inevitably strengthen our economy. We can build our economy in such a way that will make Nigeria one of the greatest in the whole world,” he said.
The minister congratulated the STEM champions for distinguishing themselves in the tough competition, saying Nigeria will develop what God has put into them to the point where those potentials can be used to serve society.
The minister reminded Nigerians that the country was the first to produce a Nobel laureate in literature and further urged the students to strive to be laureates in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Earlier, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr. Sunday Akpan assured that the ministry will follow up on the progress of the students, especially as they have bagged a scholarship to doctorate level.
He encouraged the students to be ambassadors of Nigeria especially in the areas of the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and used the opportunity to invite them to the 2022 edition of Science, Technology and Innovation Expo 2022, scheduled to hold between March 14 and 18, 2022.