ADDRESS BY DR. OGBONNAYA ONU, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION EXPO 2017 HOLDING AT THE EAGLE SQUARE, ABUJA, ON FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2017

Exactly five days ago, we made history by showing that where there is the will, there is a way! On that day, we began the journey of showing clearly that the way for Nigeria to go in her search for enduring greatness is through science and technology. We showed we can do it. We showed that when challenged, the Nigerian spirit can endure any pain and rise above any challenge to make the difference. Today’s event shows clearly that with the power of imagination and vision, Nigeria can surely rise like the morning sun to utilize science, technology and innovation to build a new nation with a knowledge based, innovation driven economy.

As I stand before you, I have a story to share with you all. Last month, just a few days ago, a Nigerian in South Africa, Ademilola Odujinrin, flew a plane round the world without a Co-Pilot. He is the first African to do so. He was able to achieve this feat because of the spirit of adventure which many Nigerians have in rich supply. It is this spirit of adventure that nurtures creativity which fires innovation as a driving force in opening new frontiers. We should never forget that adventure is the manure that nurtures creativity to thrive and blossom.

It is sad but true that in the past few weeks, many Nigerians in South Africa have been attacked by their hosts. In India, a similar unfortunate incident also took place. My heart bleeds with pain each time, I read about Africans, especially Nigerians, dying in the Mediterranean Sea in their desperation to cross over to Europe in search of a better life.

We just cannot allow this unfortunate situation to continue this way. Africa embraced civilization before Europe, North America and Asia. Nigeria has produced a Noble Laurete. We have produced the first black person to serve as Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations. Our Armed Forces, have played leading roles in the restoration of peace in many theatres of conflict in different parts of the world.

As a nation, the urgent task facing us is to build a new Nigeria which we all can be proud of. This we can achieve by efficiently utilizing our enormous human and material resources to create wealth, reduce poverty, and diversify the economy in a sustainable, inclusive and competitive manner.

Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the challenging situation in our country is being reversed. With a strong and diversified economy driven by science, technology and innovation, our citizens will be happy and proud to remain at home to pursue their happiness and contribute meaningfully to national development. They will have no reason to take unnecessary risk to enable them live outside Nigeria even at the risk of becoming targets of xenophobic attacks, hostility and even death.

The events of the last five days here in the Eagle Square have shown that Nigeria is on the move. Nigeria is on the way to success. Through this Expo, Nigerians have shown that they are capable of inventions that can change the course of history both for our beloved country, Nigeria and indeed the rest of the human race.

I assure you all that we in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will not rest until science, technology and innovation become the driving force in Nigeria’s effort to diversify her economy in order to stimulate sustainable development. This is both a promise and a solemn pledge.

I commend the participants at this Expo for showing the Nigerian spirit in them. Our hearts will never depart from you because you are the future of Nigeria. We shall follow up on your inventions and mobilize the Organized Private Sector to work together with you in the pursuit of the commercialization of your inventions. The challenge we face is to rebuild our nation and move her along the path of self-sufficiency, prosperity, international respect and acclaim.

Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the journey has just started. The end may be far. But with what we have done in the past five days, I am confident that we have taken the right step in our journey to greatness. What is required is for us to build on our achievements so far and remain determined and focused in our collective desire to build a modern Nigeria where science, technology and innovation will be the engine for economic growth and development. I urge all stakeholders in this journey: researchers, inventors, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs, to work together as members of one family to help make Nigeria the new standard bearer on the mountain top. I am confident that this can be achieved if we are determined, motivated with love of country and faith in her future greatness.

Finally, I thank you all for coming. I congratulate all those who won prizes during this Expo. As you leave the venue of this historic event, always remember: Nigeria will be a great nation. You all are the champions of change. And together we shall make Nigeria truly great. I am confident that we will succeed. It is therefore, with happiness that I now declare the Technology and Innovation Expo 2017 closed. I also wish you safe journey as you travel to your various destination.

Thank you

GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

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