26th October, 2021
The Senate Committee on Science and Technology has faulted the inclusion of funds for the establishment of incubation centres in the country in the allocation for the National Board for Technology Incubation in the 2022 budget proposal.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen.Uche Ekwunife (PDP-Anambra) indicated this when the management of NBTI led by its Director-General, Taiwo Somefun, appeared before the committee to defend the Board’s 2022 budget in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ekwunife said the committee is opposed to the merger of the hitherto separate budgets of the over 40 incubation centres across the country with that of the agency’s headquarters in the 2022 fiscal estimates.
She consequently demanded the immediate restoration of the semi-financial autonomy granted to the centres previously in the interest of the nation’s economy and Nigerian youths with various talents.
Ekwunife also urged the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, to act on the letter of protest from the Ministry of Science and Technology on the matter and revert to the previous arrangements.
She said the Senate would not pass the NBTI’s 2022 budget unless the anomaly was corrected.
She also said the current state of budget estimate of the organisation could hamper technological innovations among the Nigerian youths if the anomaly was not immediately corrected.
“The National Board for Technology Incubation is one of the key parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, vested with the responsibility of conception and delivery of technological ideas in the country.
“Among other key functions of the of the agency is to identify viable research and technological resource, indigenous technology and knowledge for commercialisation and develop strategies and processes for incubating them.
“It also coordinates technology incubation in the country.
“In the light of this, and many functions of the NBTI, there is no better time than now that we need optimal capacity performances of the board.
“There is a high turnover of graduates on yearly basis from our institutions of higher learning.
“Since there are scarce white-collar jobs, the need for a paradigm shift to equip youths with technological skills that would make them self reliant can not be overemphasized.
“Also, if the NBTI had performed its duty creditably, antisocial behaviours such as juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and other vices among the youths would drastically reduce, if not totally eradicated in our society.
“The Senate committee said that there were over 40 business technology incubation outlets providing natural platforms for entrepreneurial skills across the country.
“I am happy that the performances of the NBTI centres in the South-South and South-East geopolitical zone are quite encouraging despite inadequate publicity of their programmes to let the citizens use the golden opportunities provided for them.
“While the Senate committee is canvassing adequate funding for the NBTI to sustain their performance, the 2022 budget proposal cancelled the semi financial autonomy granted to these important agencies and its centres in the past.
“The budgets of the incubation centres had been merged with that of the NBTI headquarters which is totally unacceptable by this committee.
“The committee perceives this as a reversal of the successes recorded by the centres and call for the immediate restoration of the semi financial autonomy granted to them in the previous budgets.
“The NBTI centres are quite resourceful, enterprising and focused. This is one of the best agency if not the best, being supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“To see those important centres that are doing well, being merged with the headquarters, I don’t know what they expect them to do now.
“What the centres need now is funding, not merging them with the headquarters.
“The type of jobs they are doing will equip our young graduates because they are coming up with beautiful innovation in the ICT that can put Nigeria in the map of progress.
“So, merging them with the headquarters is wrong. I don’t know what informed the decision. It is a very unpopular decision, it is illegal and unconstitutional.
“I don’t know why the budget office should merge such centres with the headquarters. That means they want to kill the economy of this country.
“The Senate committee will follow up to ensure that the Federal Government stop the merger of the centres’ budgets with that of the headquarters.
“The Minister of Science and Technology has written the Finance Minister and the Senate Committee will also, officially communicate to them, our position of that very unpopular decision.”