FULL TEXT OF KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, DR. OGBONNAYA ONU AT THE CEREMONY OF CHEQUES’ PRESENTATION TO BENEFICIARIES OF THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL STANDING COMMITTEE ON INVENTIONS AND INNOVATIONS (PSCII) GRANTS ON TUESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY, 2017, ABUJA

PROTOCOL:

It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you to this important ceremony involving the presentation of cheques to beneficiaries of the 2016 Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations (PSCII) grants.

The PSCII was set up by the Federal Government in October, 2005, to encourage and promote Inventions and Innovations in Science and Technology in the informal sector of the economy. The aim is to help stimulate the interest of Nigerians to use Science, Technology and Innovation for national development. The idea is to give grants to local inventors to enable them improve and mass produce their inventions for use in Nigeria as well as for export to the International Market.

Since the inception of this programme in 2005, 188 Nigerians across the six geo-political zones, have benefitted after satisfying the selection process. Today, cheques will be given to Fifty-Six (56) inventors. Some of the beneficiaries may be well known to you. Most of them may not be. In the process to make this selection, the Ministry placed adverts in 2 Nigerian Newspapers on 24th September, 2015. Over 400 interested inventors and entrepreneurs submitted applications which were thoroughly scrutinized by the Committee. Members of the Committee also visited each applicant with the view of authenticating their claims before decision was taken as it concerns these 56 Nigerians who have been selected.

May I use this opportunity to congratulate all the beneficiaries of the year 2016 PSCII grants and also remind you that the funds that will be given to you are meant to empower you to improve, mass produce, commercialize your products and where necessary, register your patents. Government is taking this action because your success will lead to the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises which will in turn enhance job/wealth creation in Nigeria. As you are aware in all emerging economies of the world, SMEs (Small and Medium Scale Enterprises) are the greatest employers of labour and contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the affected countries. This money should not be used for any other thing. Our ears will be open as we monitor your progress.

Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have said it on several occasions that Nigeria’s future depends on the effective utilization of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) as tools for the economic development of our dear country. You are all inventors and innovators in your different fields of human endeavour. I therefore challenge you to continue to work hard so as to improve on your creativity, inventiveness and innovation using this grant. I expect that new businesses will start arising from what we are doing today. Such businesses will be crucial to national development, economic growth and global competitiveness. It is expected that through your inventions and innovations, in addition to other creative work you do, the challenges of youth unemployment, lack of self-reliance, etc, in our country will be reduced. Above all, this will help us in the attainment of accelerated industrialization as well as promote the socio-economic growth of the nation.

Today, we will be disbursing the highest amount disbursed at a single event since the programme started twelve years ago. I am optimistic that this level of funding will improve when the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) is fully established and the National Research and Innovation Fund (NRIF) becomes operational. I invite all of you to participate actively in the forthcoming Technology and Innovation Expo coming up in April, 3 – 7, 2017. You will meet with investors and other innovators that will help nourish the work you do.

I cannot conclude my speech without reiterating that Nigeria is looking up to you. We are proud of you. Nigerians are very creative people. We expect that like in the Parable of the Talents, these Talents that will be given to you today will not be buried. Rather you will invest them to yield the desired fruits of accelerated development which will help us achieve a sustainable diversification of the Nigerian economy. This will help us produce more of the things we need at home. We cannot continue to depend on other countries by importing virtually all the things we need. This is the way to go. It is my fervent hope that finally Nigeria is gradually moving from a resource based economy to a knowledge based, innovation driven one. This will help make our dear country truly a great one, respected both at home and abroad.

I thank you. God bless Nigeria.

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