The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has said the country can no longer sustain its economy on commodities that it does not have powers to determine or control its prices.
A statement by Mr Taye Akinyemi, the Deputy Director, Press of the ministry on Tuesday in Abuja quoted Ono as saying this at the first convocation lecture of the Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The theme of the lecture is “Pioneering and Pioneers: the Search for National Self-Sufficiency”.
“The current economic situation rather than becoming a source of despair should serve as the needed `shot in the arm’ to unleash your pioneering instincts to confront the current challenges we face as a nation.
“It is important to remind our graduates that as pioneers, you are stepping into the society in a period when not only the Nigerian economy, but indeed the global economy is facing a debilitating recession.
“One that has seen growth of some economies contrast and job opportunities and income levels shrink, especially among commodity exporting countries of which Nigeria is one of them,” he said.
Onu said that the ministry would commit to pioneering the process of changing Nigeria from being a consumer nation to one that produced most of its needs and export the surplus to other nations.
According to him, the nation can no longer continue to allow its economy to completely depend on commodities, “which we neither determine nor control their prices’’.
“We have on several occasions seen the sad effects on our economy whenever there is a sharp drop in the prices of commodities in the international market.
“The FMST is working very hard to move our economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based, innovation driven economy, “ he said.
According to him, the plan may be difficult to achieve but the ministry has determined to succeed.
He said that the ministry had strengthened inter-agency cooperation and promoted a cordial relationship between industry and research institutes as well as between universities and research institutes.
He said that the ministry had encouraged the commercialisation of research findings and the protection of intellectual property.
Onu pointed that the developed countries spent enormous resources on research in order to fully exploit the huge contributions of technology in nation building.
He said that the current government would ensure that things would be done differently from the past as the nation could no longer afford to pay lip-service to the development of science and technology.
He said that the current state of science and technological development was a big challenge and a wake-up call for the nation to rise up.
“To fully embrace science, technology and innovation in biotechnology, chemical technology, food safety and security, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics, new materials, space technology, ocean technology, among others.
“We may not get it right at the beginning but we can get there if we put our minds toward achieving it.
“We must be ready to make mistakes and accept mistakes as inevitable in the learning process,’’ he said.
He urged the nation to endure the long time it could take for innovation process, and ensure that hard work and achievements were rewarded.