BY Emma Elebeke
The National Office for Technology Acquisition, NOTAP was established in 1979 as an agency to register industrial property in Nigeria and ensure that it contributes to the process of narrowing the gap between Nigerian academia and industry before they can go international. In this interview, Director General of the agency, Dr. Umar Bindir bared his mind on some of activities of the agency and challenges facing the industry. Excerpts.
What NOTAP was set to do?
NOTAP is not a new agency, it is a 32 year old agency established to register industrial property in Nigeria, then not an agency under the ministry of science and technology but in 1986 it was moved to make sure that it contributes to the process of narrowing the gap between Nigerian academia and industry before they go international.
How has NOTAP positioned Nigeria in terms of technology advancement?
Countries of the world are classified into developed, emerging countries and developing countries. Developed countries remain developed because they are consistent in their process of building a critical pool of highly skilled, qualified educated manpower to drive their youths to the highest level. They are very strong in technology and very strong in innovation and so, they remain there.
The second level of countries is the emerging countries. They learn gradually from the developed countries. We are seeing this in Asia, manufacturing knowledge infrastructure, producing fantastic products and so many technology devices. They come up with construction companies, vehicles, helicopters, trucks and industrial equipments. Therefore, they are slowly following the footsteps of the developed countries that they are now emerging, meaning that they will soon develop.
The next level is the rest of us. We have made the difference not because we do not have polytechnics and universities but because we do not have the culture of building highly skilled critical mass, educated and well educated man power and using technology to fly, we are yet to do that. The agenda of NOTAP commencing from 2013 is a short term agenda.
So, we try our best in this institutions with other partners in the institution that are willing to come into the cluster of committed patriotic Nigerians to make sure that we too can show the world that we know why we are establishing universities. The generic agenda of NOTAP is to make sure that the gap in the Nigerian industrial sector are addressed and that is the only techniques that we know will drive the industry and close this gap.
Nigeria’s stands on technology, thirty two years after the creation of NOTAP?
Knowledge infrastructure-wise, Nigeria is not short. Since the establishment of the University of Ibadan in 1948, I can tell you that we have 128 universities established in Nigeria. But if we really know why we establish universities, then things have to change. We establish universities because we want knowledge to come out, so that we can use them to build our industries and then expand gradually.
Now we have 128 universities, the question that we must tackle is how to manage this pool of higher institutions because even with this number of universities we are still in abject poverty. I think that when we got oil, we got confused and abandoned agriculture. After all, with our agricultural potentials, how come that we are still importing rice, importing tire and Nigeria is still a net importer of medicinal products?
Where did Nigeria got it wrong?
I don’t think we have decoded the process of synergizing policy making. To us, policy making is a straight line, every ministry doing what it likes and each going on its own. We have not found a way of bending policy lines so that we can converge at the top. So that, when you are talking about employment, you are talking about education that will bring out people who are entrepreneurial, talk about industries, you will be talking about graduates who can establish small scale industries that are involved in providing inputs to the farm and those who will come and create jobs through small scale industries. I don’t think we have found the interactive policy synergy. We are a people that have perfected in working in isolation and that will not help us.
How Nigeria can get out of this doldrums?
That is the basis of this administration. It is saying that that old way of looking at things will not solve our problem and therefore we must change. And this to me, is the foundation and bedrock of the transformation agenda of government. Enough of this working in isolation; enough of making policies for the fun of it; every policy must be targeted at certain things that will benefit the peoples.