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Govt directs agencies to commercialise research efforts

 Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu

A new era is set to unfold in the nation’s science, technology and innovation sector, as the Federal Government has directed its research agencies to henceforth commercialise at least one of its research results, every year.

Hitherto, many of the research outputs of the agencies were allowed to rot because of poor research-industry linkage.‎

Just last week, the government sealed a pact with Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture for commercialisation of research efforts at the various institutions in the country.

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who gave this directive in Abuja at the weekend, also assured Nigerians that government was eager to strengthen the capacity for creative innovation and research in the science and technology sector.

Onu spoke just as the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, led by its President, Professor Oyewale Tomori, lamented poor allocation for research in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Onu said the ministry had commenced the re-engineering process in the sector, with a view to setting standards in programme implementation and changing the national consciousness of Nigerians to embrace the sector.

He assured of government’s determination to harness both the human and natural resources to build a better Nigeria by diversifying the economy.

He also invited the academy to assist the ministry, as has been the practice in the past, in the production of the science and technology journal.

Speaking on budget for research, Tomori noted that: “currently, all ministries are compelled to use a single template whether you are playing football, conducting research, or promoting culture. This is a mentally lazy way and that is why research institutes have no budget line for research and funds for their capital project are earmarked for landscaping the gardens of the Institute.

“The research institute with no money for research equipment, will have millions of naira budgeted under sub-head code 220210 miscellaneous.

“Secondly, there must also be a better way of coordinating the different funds we pretend are being used for research in our universities, in various departments of government and agencies, such as TETFUND, NUC and others.

“The vision of the Ministry of Science and Technology is to make Nigeria one of the acknowledged leaders of the scientifically and technologically developed nations of the world. We are determined and delighted to work with you as you translate this vision into reality. By this we mean that science and technology must be used to find solutions to the peculiar problems of our nation.”

According to Tomori, when science is rightly pursued and technology is wisely applied, there will be a positive impact on the daily life of the ordinary citizen, at work, at home, on the road, or when asleep. Society expects scientists to transform elegant theories of development into practical solutions for daily needs.”

He added: “People are hearing positive things about science and technology using S&T to serve the citizens and making their life better. We of the NAS agree with the steps you are taking and wish to share with you some of the comments of the participants at the Nigerian Science summit held in May 2015. The summit was attended by representatives from 40 science associations and societies.