COVID-19 exposes our innovation gaps with developed countries - Buhari

President Buhari Masked
  • As President directs NASENI to bridge the gaps in COVID-19 research

By Taiwo Okanlawon

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to work towards bridging the gaps in research and technology that keeps Nigeria waiting on other countries for supplies and solutions, especially in tackling challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

This direction was made known in a statement released by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity on Tuesday in Abuja.

President Buhari chairing a Board meeting of NASENI at the State House said the agency should play a more pivotal role in equipping the country during emergencies while encouraging research, upgrading local skills, fabrication and international collaborations that will provoke growth in science and technology.

“The uniqueness of the mandate of NASENI as enshrined in its enabling law towards the actualization and realization of our development programmes such as the creation of Ten Million jobs; Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (ERGP) and Post COVID-19 sustainability Plan.

“It is only deliberate deployment of Engineering, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) using technology domestication and reverse engineering of capital goods; making them available in Nigeria that can fast-track realization of our collective will to build capacity and reduce poverty among our teeming populace.

“The countries that are at the forefront of economic recovery have only one thing in common: investment and sustained research and development work in knowledge economy. COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the Technology and innovation gap between us and the developed World, which NASENI is strategically positioned to fill.’’

President Buhari said he had earlier approved the reconstitution and inauguration of the Governing Board on 8th March, 2018, with a clear mandate to develop local capacity in machine building and fabrication, which will be critical to Nigeria’s industrial development.

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“However, in order to realize its full potential, NASENI must be empowered through the provision of adequate financial, human and material resources and be given the autonomy and independence to forge international partnerships to acquire the relevant technologies for socio-economic and industrial advancement of the country.

“In this regard, I have directed the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Federal Inland Revenue Service to commence remittance of funds approved by Law to the Agency.’’

The President also directed the Minister of Finance to conclude negotiation and acceptance of 85 per cent funding source for establishment of Solar Cells production, High Voltage testing laboratory and Transformer in collaboration with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

“It is important for members of NASENI Governing Board to note that Agencies of Government with similar mandate as NASENI in many countries are directly under the supervision of their respective Heads of State and Government.’’

At the meeting, President Buhari approved the National Tractor Refurbishment and Recovery Programme, which will cater for the repair and repositioning of more than 55,000 tractors across the country, and collaboration with Belgium Helicopter Manufacturing Company (Dynali Company) for helicopter production.

In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Professor M.S Haruna, said the agency had invested in human capacity development that translated into manufacturing of a kinetic turbine, pre-paid metres, transformers, brick moulding machines, laboratory equipment and unmanned aerial drones.

He said the agency also intervened in producing 3-Dmasks, ventilators and environment disinfectants for the COVID-19, noting that it had constructed electronic voting systems and was already working on locally produced jet engines and assemblage of passenger and military helicopters.