The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said on Tuesday that the ministry was leading Nigeria toward a knowledgeable society that was innovation-driven.
Onu said this while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on partnership for effective and innovative Research and Development Linkage with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), in Abuja.
He said that signing the collaboration would help the nation to rely less on commodities and more on the intellect of Nigerians.
“Nigerians are some of the most intelligent people in the world, and the God-given gift needs to be explored.
“ We must be in the position to produce the things we import into the country, which will help create jobs and regain the strength of the Naira,” he said.
“Today, we spend so much on importing herbs which we have in our country and all that is needed is to carry out researches, identify their uses, apply them and export to improve our foreign exchange earnings.”
He stated that the ministry would need funding to enable its agencies to embark on research, particularly in helping to use the enormous natural resources.
Onu said that the ministry, in collaboration with her education counterpart, had started championing the use of indigenous languages in teaching children Mathematics and Sciences, like other scientifically-developed countries.
The minister commended TETFUND’s contributions toward manpower development and innovation in Nigeria adding that both organisations must work together to build a knowledgeable society and solve some problems confronting the nation.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, TETFUND, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, said that nations that dwelt on produce-based economy were no longer competitive.
He noted that Nigeria should be knowledge-based like U.S., China and Japan.
“ There cannot be progress when researchers and academia are not deeply researched.
“For too long, our universities have dwelt more on teaching which does not renew itself.
“It is research that renews and enhances knowledge,” Bogoro said.
The professor noted that the time ministries and agencies in the country operated as islands were over.
“President Muhammadu Buhari approved the highest research grant of N5 billion in 2018, under TETFUND’s National Research Fund, and we hope to succeed in getting an approval to raise the sum in 2020,” he said.
The TETFUND secretary noted that beneficiaries of the Fund were not limited to federal or state universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
He said that private entities, universities and research institutes in science, agriculture, non-education based research institutes and centres of excellence could also apply.
The don said that a number of private universities and entities that qualified were among the 128 beneficiaries that got the grants recently.
“TETFUND will also be able to make available funds to strengthen facilities for research, and not only to support research grants,” Bogoro said.