The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayuba Wabba, has challenged the federal government to prioritise the funding of technological research in order to achieve real diversification of the Nigerian economy.
Wabba threw the challenge yesterday when he delivered the goodwill message at the National Association of Academic Technologists’ (NAAT) Fourth National Delegates Conference. The theme of the conference was “The Role of Technologists in the Economic Diversification Policy of Government: A Look at the Agricultural Sector.”
He said that the time has come for Nigeria to begin to take technological evolution and adaptation serious as no country would willingly give up its technological leverage in the name of technological transfer.
“We must take our destinies in our own hands. We can no longer afford to wait endlessly for foreign technology to deploy and fix our refineries, iron and steel plants and fertilizer companies. We have waited long enough. My fellow comrades, let us show the world that we can fix our refineries and build new ones. That we can revive our steel plants and successfully run fertilizer companies and that we can add real value to every grain of crop and pound of animal produce grown in our land. Yes, we can!” he said.
He added: “I am happy that the theme for today focuses on diversification with special lens trained on the agricultural sector. About 22.86 per cent of our national GDP is supplied from the agricultural sector. More than 70 per cent of our population are engaged in one form of agricultural activity cum enterprise or another.
“Unfortunately, agriculture in Nigeria has hardly ever evolved from the subsistence form it was at the end of colonial rule to secondary or even tertiary forms of production. Our agricultural sector still majors on the production of raw materials for export to other countries where they are technologically transformed to finished products and subsequently imported back to us at highly inflated costs. Sadly, it is not only the high costs of finished goods that are imported but also unemployment and poverty. For every agricultural raw material exported out of Nigeria unprocessed is a job lost. It is poverty deepened.
“To bring a halt to this catastrophic economic pattern, we must get to the roots of things. We must emphasize the use of technology to advance production and distribution of goods and services. We must technologically transform our agricultural products from raw materials to finished goods. Now is the time to overhaul the value chain in our agricultural sector as a proof of our commitment to genuine economic diversification. We must stop throwing money away. We must stop exporting agricultural products without adding value to them.