By Emmanuel Elebeke
BARELY one week after their formal inauguration, the new Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has espoused his vision for the country, saying that Nigeria has no reason to buy weapons from other nations.
The Minister who spoke during his inaugural meeting with the directors and heads of the ministry in Abuja, said Science and Technology Ministry is at the centre of three major promises of security; job creation and fight against corruption, which were made by the new APC administration.
He assured of his resolve to explore the nations’ potentials in science and technology in tackling the issue of insecurity across the country.
“When we needed weapons to fight insurgents in the North East, it was difficult, even with our own money. Why do we need to go outside to buy weapons? When we have able men and materials that can manufacture most of the military equipment that we need. India was buying weapons before but is now in a position to produce what they need. The defence industry we have in Kaduna was established at the same time with that of Brazil, but today theirs can manufacture aircraft, ships, tanks but ours will take a very long time unless we act very urgently.
“Our ministry is very strategic as far as securing the nation is concerned. In the area of growing our economy, for too long, we have been a consuming nation; we import most of our needs. We export wood but we import tooth pick, we export crude oil and import petroleum products, we export cocoa but import chocolate, this can be very disturbing. The missing link is that the key we need to open the door for prosperity is missing, despite having all it takes to be a great nation.”
In terms of economy, reducing poverty, creating jobs, ‘the Minister maintained that science and technology are vital in actualizing the objectives of the government and promised to leverage on the available opportunities to achieve the objectives.
On the fight against corruption, Onu further reiterated the commitment of the Buhari administration to tackle corruption through the instrumentality of technology, saying that the success of the 2015 general elections was made possible because of the use of card reader technology, which according to him made it difficult for the result to be rigged.
“Without the card reader, the result of the 2015 elections would have been different but the card reader made it more difficult for those who want to be fraudulent. It is a clear example of the role technology can play to reduce corruption.
“For this administration to realize its key objectives, the ministry is very important. It remains the foundation that carries the development of the nation. There is no nation that can attain greatness without science and technology.
“We can be rich as a nation, but without technology, we cannot be great. Technology is one area we can’t run away from if we want to be a great nation.
“It does not matter the perception some people may have about what our ministry can do. It is for us to change the orientation. We must let people know there is a new consciousness required if our country must attain the greatness that is required.”
According to the Minister, Nigerians have no reason to be poor because of the rich endowment of the nation, noting that the nation can only defeat poverty if it embraces science and technology.
While soliciting for the cooperation of the ministry staff, Onu promised to seek the collaboration of other ministries to enable them achieve their respective objectives.
He also expressed the resolve of the present admonition in fulfilling ll its campaign promises.
“I want to appeal for your support and cooperation to enable us succeed. We will work with other ministries because the work of our ministry is interrelated with other ministries to achieve the objectives. We don’t have any reason to import things we can produce. I am very encouraged by what our people can do.
“The administration of President Muhanmmadu Buhari is one that is committed to realising the manifesto of APC.
“The administration is also very committed to job creation, also on reducing poverty, which requires creating job opportunities to employ our people, so that they will be able to live very meaningful lives.
“We are equally committed to making sure there is respect for the rule of law, no citizen under this government will be above the law, and every citizen will be under the law. Once we have rule of law, corruption will be minimized. I can tell you that the APC administration is committed to realizing these objectives,” he said.
President Buhari had during the last general elections made some promises, chief among which is that the APC administration will work very hard to secure the nation, create 3 million jobs every year and fight against corruption.