President Muhammadu Buhari Monday revealed that the World Bank is committing additional $3 million for the establishment of six technology hubs across the country.
He also directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to align with the Executive order 5 of science, technology and innovation to ensure that the lofty intent of that order is met.
The president who was represented by his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed this in Abuja while declaring open the 2018 Science and Technology Innovation Expo, with the theme, "Fast Tracking Sustainable Development of Nigeria through Science and Technology."
He said that Nigeria is a country hungry of innovation, stressing that every challenge that is facing the country in terms of security, infrastructure deficit, financial inclusion among others, is a natural laboratory for manifestation of groundbreaking and home-grown innovation.
The president noted that as part of his administration's effort to create emerging environment for technology and innovation in Nigeria, he has approved a new science and technology innovation roadmap 2012-2030 for the country, as well as approving the National Strategy for competitiveness in Raw materials and product development in Nigeria.
According to him, "It is our intention as a government to utilise those initiative to stimulate global competiveness of our raw materials and support our ambition for a diversified economy. In September 2016, the State House hosted the first Aso Villa Demo Day to showcase innovations... Since then; the World Bank has supported a batch of those innovations with about $3 million, the first tranche of which has already been disbursed. I'm pleased to note that World Bank is committing an additional $3 million for six technology hubs across Nigeria in our universities."
Continuing, Buhari noted: "In addition, the federal government plans to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of new innovation hubs in partnership with the private sectors, and this is well on course.
"We have recently concluded a competitive selection process of private sector entities that will implement and manage the hubs. Each of these hubs will focus solely on the market challenges peculiar to the region of the country in which each is located.
"We are also setting up technology hubs in universities in the six geopolitical zones. And this is important also as we do this to celebrate the creativity and innovation of many of our young Nigerians who are doing incredible things in science and technology.
"Most recently, on February 2nd, 2018, President Buhari signed a presidential executive order, and this administration's 5th executive order; for supplying and execution of projects and programmes especially in the area of science, engineering and technology.
"As contained in executive order five, we will also establish centres for acquisition of technology in each of the geopolitical zones of the country. We will provide intervention funds that will strengthen research and development through training programmes and partnerships in Nigeria universities and polytechnics. Our goal is to develop a strong confident country that is able to quickly identify and take advantage of emerging opportunities in a rapidly evolving world.
"The Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council under the Chairmanship of the president will ensure the faithful implementation of this order. The important thing about this executive order is that it says now that wherever there is local talent in science, technology and innovation, we cannot get that from abroad. So if we are procuring any type of engineering services, technology services or science services, so long there is a local talent, it is the local talent that must be patronised and we must not import or pay for foreign talents,
"I wish to add that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to align with it and to ensure that the lofty intent of that order are met. Science and technology are key instrument of the realisation of the objectives of our National Economic and Growth Plan (NERG) 2017-2020. Our goal of moving Nigerian economy away from a resource-based to a knowledge based model is one that we must take seriously and the ERG is a step in that direction,
"We have an elaborative team with the Bank of Industry with a semi-hub, which is private hub and all private sector entities to run a presidential technology innovation challenge in all Nigerian universities-public and private, and also some polytechnics in April of this year. Each university winner will be invited to an award event hosted by the president," he stressed.
Buhari emphasised that innovation would create jobs, attract investment, boost export, as well as grow the economy, adding that these are part of the positive impact that would improve the country's image and perception around the world.
The president however granted full scholarship from the University to PhD level to the three best students that came first, second and third at the 2018, 774 young scientists presidential award.
The beneficiaries of the award which was conducted for young scientists from the 774 local governments include Idakwoji Daniel Omonu from FCT who came first, Ajisafe Solomon from Ogun State came second while Akingbulugbe Oladipupo from Ondo State came third.
Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said through science and technology that Nigeria would find weapon to fight hunger, disease, illiteracy and underdevelopment.
He stressed that with the huge population of the country and vast resources that Nigeria could utilise the power of science and technology to become the technological leader in Africa and hence play a leading role in the global battle against poverty, disease and illiteracy.
The minister expressed confidence that this year's expo would build on the success of previous edition.