KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY DR. OGBONNAYA ONU, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION EXPO HOLDING AT THE EAGLE SQUARE, ABUJA, MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2017

Today marks a historic day in our dear country. It tells the story showing clearly that the journey to the future greatness of our dear country lies in the deployment of Science, Technology and Innovation. I am happy that the seed we are sowing at this landmark event, holds the promise of growing into a big tree that will help shape the future of Nigeria. I salute you all for being here today in such large numbers.

You are here today because you believe in a prosperous Nigeria. You are here today because you have faith in your personal capabilities as creative men and women who desire a better life for all. You are here today; from Aba to Sokoto; Uyo to Gombe; Akure to Makurdi; because you believe in the power of Science and Technology as an instrument for Nigeria’s greatness.

Today’s event shows that Nigeria can make it. It shows that we have the men and materials needed to make a nation great. We have resourceful and creative men and women of strong imagination who, if encouraged, can help Nigeria become the new Center of global power in Africa.

Most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology share your dream. We believe in what you believe. We share your passion. Above all, we draw strength from our rich past: the Nok culture, the Benin, Ile Ife and Igbo Ukwu works of art, the Moroccan leather to mention, but a few. We hold on to our strong faith in the achievements of our forefathers who built the ancient Bini Kingdom of enduring royal splendor and erected the Great Groundnut Pyramids of Kano through the mastery of indigenous technology.

This event is not a Trade Fair for sales promotion. No. it is a platform for interaction between researchers, inventors, innovators and investors as well as entrepreneurs with the overall objective of commercializing research findings into viable goods and services for the happiness of our people. Today, we live in challenging times. Nigeria is yet to efficiently exploit her huge and abundant human and material resources for nation building. But this challenge, offers us the opportunity to begin again and rebuild the country of our dream and move our country in the direction of self-sufficiency.

In order to achieve this, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is championing and pioneering the cause of refocusing the nation to embrace science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for national development. We urge our people to patronize ‘made in Nigeria’ products. This will enable our manufacturers to do more research in order to improve their products so as to meet local market demand as well as have excess for export. By doing this, we will create jobs and wealth for our people and also reduce poverty in our country.

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this important occasion, “SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FOR NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION” captures the new direction which our beloved country has resolved to follow in our search to help strengthen our economy. It is derived from our determination to lead a new initiative that will help diversify our economy in a sustainable manner by encouraging the harnessing and application of indigenous technology so as to promote local content in our development process. Indeed, the event of today has shown that Nigeria has the capacity to attain greater achievements that can help accelerate economic growth and development. This way, we can create more jobs, create wealth, reduce poverty, strengthen the Naira, reawaken our sense of pride and ultimately, stimulate growth in the economy. This is the challenge which this Expo seeks to confront and defeat for the sake of a new Nigeria we all can be proud of.

This Expo is a child of necessity. I say so because never before in our history as a nation has the Federal Government of Nigeria paid so much attention to the development of Science and Technology as the APC led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari. A lot more still needs to be done.

As I speak, the National Research and Innovation Council has met on four occasions under the present Administration. Before now, in the past 30 years up to January 2016, it had never met thereby showing the uncommon commitment of the Buhari Administration to strengthen science, technology and innovation as the engine of economic growth and diversification.

This explains why I am happy that present at this event are members of the Organized Private Sector, OPS, who can help translate novel research findings into viable goods and services, thereby playing a leading role in our resolve to close all technology gaps in our country. For too long, these gaps had been allowed to exist. The time has come for us to close them. We will support this initiative through our flagship programme: Technology Acquisition Promotion Initiative. Through this, investors who want to manufacture goods in Nigeria and who are willing to transfer their technology to Nigerians will be encouraged with incentives by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology working with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.

I am confident that with such emphasis on deepening the depth of science, technology and innovation in our development process, we can move our economy from a resource base to a knowledge based, innovation driven economy. I am confident that we will achieve this.

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria can lead the way for Africa to follow in the search for sustainable development. With our huge population and vast natural resources endowment, if we remain determined, creative and focused, we can before too long become the technological leader in Africa and hence play a prominent role in the global battle against poverty, disease and illiteracy. I am confident that we will succeed.

I ask all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to lend their support to our effort to find and redirect the role of science and technology to enable us become the true giant of Africa and a major leader in the world. We should never forget that no country has ever become a truly great nation without placing emphasis on science and technology. Nigeria cannot be an exception. The aim of this Expo is to show the way Nigeria should follow for us to achieve this goal. No matter the challenges that many Nigerians face at this moment, we must always remember that so long as we pay attention to the role of science and technology in nation building, the future of our dear country, is truly bright. We will then be the country on the mountain top.

Once again, I thank you all for coming.

GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

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