Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger has called for strategies that will stimulate the growth and expansion of local resources-based manufacturing industries in Nigeria.
Aliyu made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at the silver jubilee and 11th Techno-Exposition of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
Aliyu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Ahmed Ibeto, said that the country must use its raw materials to lay foundation for industrialisation and national development.
He said that it was high time Nigeria stopped the importation of items and commodities it could manufacture and export.
"We must begin to seriously look inwards and genuinely harness our natural resources for overall development of our people and nation.
"We should also encourage vocational education to engender early acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and technical knowledge.
"Agreed, certificates are essential but skills are key elements for much needed industrial and technological transformation of the nation," Aliyu said.
The governor also stressed the need for the country to evolve sound policies that were peculiar to the development of its manufacturing sector.
"Relying on research efforts from our foreign partners to develop our manufacturing and extractive sub-sectors, will only make us perpetually dependent, as no one will allow you to have their best.
"National economies are better grown and managed through home grown policies. We must do more to put our economy on sound footing like others," Aliyu added.
Aliyu said the Niger Government was committed to harnessing its vast solid mineral potential to achieve its aspiration of economic development.
He said it was interesting to note that investment in the solid minerals sector in Niger had been on the increase as a result of the government's investment friendly policies and incentives.
On his part, Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom said in spite of the available raw materials and RMRDC's efforts, the country's industrial sector was contributing only about 4.1 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Akpabio was represented by Mr Martyns Udo-Inyang, Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Commerce and Industry.
The governor attributed the low contribution of the industrial sector to the GDP to its dependence on the importation of machines and raw materials.
He said the situation could be tackled by ensuring value addition through the manufacturing sector.
"For this to happen, we must develop policy initiative that will transform our economy from its present import dependence to that of an export-based economy," Akpabio said.
He also stressed the need for government to provide necessary infrastructure and friendly environment to enhance local production.
"If we as a nation must achieve our Vision 20:2020, we must be competitive and this can only be achieved by harnessing the power of emerging technology." Akpabio said.
He commended RMRDC for its achievement on diverse researches and publications.
"Notable of these achievements is the provision of necessary digital information on available raw materials in the country through the use of ICT, such that one can obtain information on the location and technical details of any industrial raw materials.
"Indeed, today we can all agree that RMRDC is a vocal point to rally round for the development and utilisation of the country's verse and abundant natural resources," he said.
He also advised RMRDC to double its efforts on human capacity building, especially on equipment fabrication, adding that Nigeria was in a position to export machines.
Akpabio, however, encouraged participants at the techno-expo to come out with practical synergies that would ensure technological development and economic growth.