- Okays flag-off of 72,000 tonnes of yam exports to UK thursday
- Co-opts corps members into NHIS
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) wednesday approved a 13-year Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap for Nigeria with a view to developing a science and technologically inclined nation.
Briefing journalists at the end of wednesdayâ€™s FEC meeting in the State House, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, said the council observed that Nigerian pupils donâ€™t usually want to study Mathematics, a situation he said had been a setback for infrastructural development and industrialisation.
According to him, the development had always compelled the country to contract major projects such as the building of refineries, roads and bridges to foreign companies, pointing out that the development has culminated in huge exportation of jobs from Nigeria.
Hence, he said FEC resolved that the trend must stop and thus resulted in the approval of 2017-2030 science, technology and innovation blueprint by Science and Technology Ministry with the overall intention to â€œtake our people beyond where we are.â€
Onu further said the roadmap had become necessary in view of attendant unemployment rate, worsening poverty and inability to build a self-reliant nation.
â€œSo, this roadmap will prepare Nigeria to be a truly great nation where we will have the capacity to use the natural resources we have to meet our needs as a nation to become self-reliant. That will also give us confidence,â€ he said.
Onu also said the blueprint had become imperative in view of the recent projection that in 2050, Nigeria would be the ninth largest economy in the world, affirming that without building a commensurate technologically inclined country, the projection would remain an illusion.
â€œThere are estimates that Nigeria, by purchasing power priority, will be the ninth largest economy of the world in 2050. We canâ€™t do this without science and technology. In essence, the difference between the developed nations of the world that are the richest and developing countries that are poor is science and technology. How do you apply science and technology to nation building? So, this roadmap will help our nation to take us to where we should be. We will have the capacity to use the natural resources we have,â€ he added.
Onu also said the roadmap would also provide the platform to educate Nigerians that the country had a very rich science and technology heritage, recalling that the ancestors created artefacts, fine works of art and other innovative productions which he said formed the basis for the study of architecture, medicine, and the like.
Through the Nigerian ancestorsâ€™ technological and innovative creations, Onu said the native brand of iron had been in existence in the past 3,000 years.
He added that the development would not only provide the platform to encourage Nigerians to build on such rich heritage from the ancestors, but also to make it better and consequently ensure a good placement for Nigeria in the comity of technologically inclined nations.
In his briefing, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said he briefed the council on last weekâ€™s conclusion by the ministry to carry out the first formal export of Nigerian tubers of yam to the United Kingdom.
Ogbeh who said when the move first became public knowledge last week, it generated reactions from the people, with some querying what was special about exporting yam while others expressed concern if the move would not amount to food shortage and hunger in the land.
While assuaging the minds of Nigerians of the fear of food shortage, Ogbeh disclosed that today, Nigeria would export 72,000 tons of three containers of tubers of yam to the United Kingdom.
Reporting that two containers of Nigerian tubers of yams had earlier arrived in New York on June 16, Ogbeh said it was embarrassing that despite being responsible for 61 per cent of yam export in the world, Nigerian yam was yet difficult to come-by in the global market, noting that the remaining 31 per cent of yam export comes from some West African countries and West Indies.
â€œWe had cause to tell council that last week, we completed arrangements to carry out the first formal export of Nigerian yams to the United Kingdom…Tomorrow (today), we shall flag off this export in three container loads containing 72,000 tons of Nigerian yams. Two containers went out in February. One arrived in New York on the 16th of this month,â€ Ogbeh said.
The minister promised that the move would further enhance economic growth and recovery, disclosing how Ghana, a distant competitor in yam export is currently targeting $4 billion earnings from yam in the next four years and insisted that Nigeria, a superior in this regard could not afford to lag behind.
Observing that the major challenge facing Nigeria in yam production is the continuous migration of young Nigerians who ought to engage in farming to urban centres, Ogbeh however, assured that the government would embrace mechanised yam production and as well use solar coolers to preserve produced yams at 14 degree centigrade.
Also briefing, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said the council approved the enlisting of members of Nigeria Youth Service Corps (NYSC) into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) with the intention to prevent unnecessary deaths among the corps members.
Adewole also reported to the council that no case of polio had been recorded in Nigeria in recent times adding that meningitis outbreak which consumed almost 2,000 Nigerians earlier this year has eventually fizzled out.
He also said the council had approved voluntary contraceptive services for the country in the next four years.