By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructures, Mr Ahmad Zakari, Thursday gave reasons presidency designated N982bn supplementary budget for defense capabilities.
He identified poor funding as a major setback to defence in Nigeria and explained that more funding would help to bridge the existing gaps, especially in the areas of research and development.
Zakari made the clarification at the eleventh National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers (NISE) held on Thursday in Abuja.
The SA, while making reference to the theme of the conference, “Combating Kidnapping and Banditry in Nigeria: Role of Space Technologies and ICTs, Security Establishment and the State”, pointed out that Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) countries spend two to three per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in research which Nigeria had been lagging and called for change of attitude towards R&D.
He, However added that the present administration has shown interest in supporting Science, Technology, research agencies and expressed optimism that the effort could help to harness local capabilities.
He recalled that, “Recently, the government has approved one percent of the country’s GDP for the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI),to boost development of locally made infrastructures and for national security.
“The N982 Billion supplementary budget has the large chunk of it dedicated for defense capabilities.”
“I encourage NISE, security agencies to engage in discussions around patronage of locally made security equipment which will reduce capital flight in that sector,” he added.
Zakari, who decried the security challenges currently bedeveling the country with serious economic impact that has led to joblessness and insecurities.
For him, we must invest in Unmanned aerial tracking systems, new age technology which included Space technology to combat Banditry, terrorism in the country.
Earlier in address, the NISE President, Dr George Okpanachi, acknowledged that the country was was facing a daunting task in tackling kidnappings and pockets of insecurities but expressed confidence that his .
He assured that NISE had the capacity to contribute their quota towards addressing insecurities in the country.
According to him, “the capacity is there but there is lack of infrastructure and we need government’s support in the area of Infrastructures.”
On his part, the Chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr. Babagana Mohammed, posited that the government needed to deliberately engage some local companies already into production of security equipment.
He urged members of NISE and the NSE to be more professional and ethical in their profession, and engage in skills development that would lead to lifting millions of citizens out of poverty.
Also speaking, another guest speaker at the event, Mr Kashim Ali, said although investments in space technology and ICT was for a long term but would be an investment well made.
He stressed the need to support and strengthen government institutions towards addressing local problems.