…As Amaechi says my ministry got N31bn of N192bn budget in 2017***
The Ministry of Science and Technology says the mechanism being instituted by the ministry to stop importation of raw materials if successful will save Nigeria N43 trillion in five years.
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology made this known in a statement issued by Mr AbdulGaniyu Aminu, the Deputy Director, Press in Abuja.
Onu was speaking during an interactive session on the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (2017 to 2030) at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos recently.
He said that the ministry was embarking on a silent revolution that would enable Nigeria to create more jobs and fight poverty, adding that some industrialised countries did not have natural resources but were endowed with knowledge-economy.
He said that such a revolution would also ensure that Nigeria utilised its resources and intellectual capacity to add value to nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
“The ministry has already identified those raw materials and products that Nigeria can produce and is providing guidelines on programmes and designs to ensure that Nigerian professionals are given preference in execution of contracts.
“In the next 20 years, we want Nigerian firms to compete with American firms for jobs as the interest of Nigeria will first be considered above that of any expatriate,“ he said.
Onu appealed to members of Academic Union of Research Institutes (ASURI) to call off their ongoing strike, while stressing the need for the union to educate their members about the roadmap.
The minister expressed renewed commitment to the welfare of workers as a matter of priority.
He said that efforts were being made to formulate a policy framework that would move the country from resource-based to knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy where professionals could help to create jobs.
Onu said that more than 200 organised private and manufacturing companies were fully involved in the preparation and final drafting of the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials making it all-inclusive.
Mr Ekanem Udo, the Director of Science and Technology Promotion in the Ministry said the roadmap would stimulate research activities to ensure commercialisation of research results for economic development.
According to him, the roadmap is also intended to provide a long term science and technology framework and facilitate the creation of knowledge.
“It will also create the platform to change the mindset of Nigerians to appreciate technology,’’ Udo said.
In the meantime, the Federal Government said on Monday that it had implemented 16.55 per cent of the capital component of the 2017 budget of Ministry of Transportation.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Land Transport to defend the 2018 budget proposal of his ministry.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, urged the ministry to ensure the delivery of standard gauge rail lines and other vital rail infrastructure to Nigerians before 2019.
Amaechi said only 10.79 per cent of the N192.2bn capital component of the ministry’s budget had been expended.
“The total capital appropriation for the ministry for 2017 is N192,895,507,321, out of which N31,932,659,318.65 (16.55 per cent) was released to the ministry. The sum of N20,826,771,137.45 has so far been expended as of November this year.
“In addition, the sum of N528.8m was appropriated for overhead expenditure, out of which N230.5m (43.6 per cent) was released, while N180,514,659.21 (34.1 per cent) has so far been expended.”
Speaking on the 2018 budget, Amaechi said the Federal government had proposed the completion of the ongoing Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri-Aladja railway project, which commenced 32 years ago.
The Minister also said the government’s counterpart funding required for the new Ibadan-Kano rail and the Nigerian coastal line Lagos-Calabar project had been included in the 2018 budget proposal.
“We sought and got Mr. President’s approval to source for financiers for various rail projects for development. Negotiations are ongoing and we may need some contributions, depending on the discussions,” he said.
Amaechi further said the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, was focusing on the improvement of its basic infrastructure, increasing its research base and expansion of its training drive.
He added, “To this end, the institute is planning to acquire state-of-the-art equipment and establish outreach learning centres in four geopolitical zones of the country. It is expected that the institute will eventually be upgraded to a transport technology university that will serve not only Nigeria, but the rest of West Africa.”
A statement on Monday also quoted Ashafa, representing the Lagos East district, as saying during the budget defence session of the Ministry of Transportation, “We must be conscious of the fact that the 2018 appropriation cycle is the most important in the life of this administration. It is on its back that we expect most of the projects that have commenced since 2015 to be delivered to Nigerians.”
The senator also called for a synergy between the committee and the ministry to ensure a speedy passage of the 2018 budget.
He said, “This meeting makes it the second that our committee would have with the minister and his team in respect of budget defence in 2017. This is due to no other reason but our commitment towards ensuring an early passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law. I will implore all parties to avoid any actions that will delay the appropriation process.”
Additional report from Punch