The central message of the 2023 Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Expo that recently ended in Abuja has been the diversification of the Nigerian economy from over-reliance on oil to other areas to generate income.

This development was triggered by difficulties in the oil sector caused by fluctuating prices which are often unfavorable for the Nigerian economy in recent times.

And to reinforce the seriousness of its diversification agenda, the federal government has chosen to invest more in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), especially to boost the research and development (R&D) component to boost industrial growth that will place the nation among the community of nations. .

It was therefore appropriate when the federal government moved to upgrade the 0.5 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) earmarked for enhancing Research and Development (R&D) to accelerate Nigeria’s drive towards industrialization through Science Technology Innovation (STI) .

President Muhammadu Buhari revealed this in his speech declaring open the seventh edition of the Expo, which kicked off in Abuja on Monday with the theme “Update on effective diversification of the Nigerian economy through science, technology and innovation ( STI)”.

The 5-day expo aimed to highlight the capabilities of Nigerian scientists, engineers, inventors/innovators to contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification; promote collaboration between research institutions, researchers/inventors and investors to facilitate the growth of indigenous manufacturing and marketing of Nigerian products.

It also aims to support technology transfer and accelerate the implementation of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap 2030.

President Buhari, who was represented by his chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said that the dedication of 0.5 percent of GDP to R&D and the increase in the budget allocation to the ministry of science, technology and innovation have demonstrated the determination of his administration. diversify and develop the Nigerian economy through STI.

President Buhari said, “I would like to inform you that we have made an effort to update this through our communication to the National Economic Council to find modalities to achieve this noble intention of the government.”

The president also said that his administration gave a special bonus to the STI sector for the use of local Nigerian materials and personnel, which is why he signed Executive Order Number 5, in February 2018 for the “Planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian”. Contents in Contracts, Engineering Sciences and Technology.

“It is on record that this Order not only empowered and supported scientists, but also empowered other professionals and encouraged inter-professional collaboration to build the capacities of Nigerians and create opportunities for all,” he added.

President Buhari pointed out that the inauguration of the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council (PMEC) on October 14, 2021 and the establishment of the six Centers of Excellence in Technology and Innovation in the six geopolitical zones of the country by his administration was for encourage stakeholder participation. dialogues to propose solutions for the industrialization of the country towards job creation and wealth generation to stop youth restlessness and social vices in the country.

He also emphasized the role of the private sector in fostering innovation in Nigeria, adding that the government has partnered with them to invest directly, as well as universities and research institutions to carry out research that will lead to the commercialization of products. Nigerians to the world. markets.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Adeleke Mamora said in her speech that the expo is an effort to set the country on the path of economic greatness and pave the way for economic diversification geared towards sustainable national social economic development.” .

He noted that STI is the foundation and driving force for industrial leadership of nations and business entities, as well as global economic success, especially in the recovery period from COVID-19 disruptions.

The Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, said in his remarks that the ministry is committed to ensuring that STI is used to drive economic growth and development in Nigeria.

He added that the exhibition was aimed at fostering interactions between researchers, innovators and investors with a view to commercializing the research results, inventions and innovations of Nigerian tertiary institutions.

All sixteen agencies under the ministry, including private companies, were at the Eagle Square exhibition site to witness the innovations and inventions made by the agencies.

One of the agencies, the Osun state-based National Center for Technology Management (NACETEM), emphasized Nigeria’s science, technology and innovation (STI) policy document (revised 2022) as the basis. upon which the Nigerian economy can diversify so the country can be less dependent on oil revenues.

The agency’s supervising director general, John Akintayo Omimakinde, stated this in his speech on ‘NACETEM Day’ during the STI Expo.

He noted that the STI policy, if prudently pursued, will provide solutions to Nigeria’s search for local production which will lead to economic growth and marketing of Nigerian products for global competitiveness.

He said: “NACETEM, as one of the main institutions for policy research and knowledge support in the country, is convinced that the current CTI policy is a document that can set us in the direction to follow.

Everything we need to achieve sustainable development and diversification of the Nigerian economy is contained there, but we don’t seem to fully own it or implement it properly. This has to change as the implementation of the revised STI policy in 2022 will put Nigeria on the path to riches.”

NACETEM Board Chairman Haaatrup Adewale Olatunji said in his speech that Nigeria should become more involved in STI, because “it is an enabler of rapid growth and development.” He added that implementing STI in other sectors “will not only open up various opportunities for Nigerians in terms of employment, but it will also boost the economy as more income is generated from other areas of the economy.”

In her remarks, the permanent secretary of the science, technology and innovation ministry, Monilola Udoh, called on all ministry agencies to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to produce materials of commercial value, though she advised against duplicating research products. to avoid wasting human resources.

He added that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with resources that will put it on the global map of industrialized nations, stressing that all that is required is determination and patriotism to harness the resources for national development.

In the same vein, the Director General of the Oshodi Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO) in Lagos, Ms. Jummai Adamu, denounced the technology gap in Nigeria and called for more investment to harness the country’s technological potential for industrial development. .

Adamu made this call in his remarks during ‘FIIRO Day’ at the STI Expo, stressing that Nigeria must stop relying too heavily on oil and gas. He added that the country can achieve that through CTI to transform the country from consumption to production.

“Our mono-economic dependence on non-renewable oil and gas has kept us from significant development that would have made us respected among the community of nations. This is attributed to our inability to properly use STI as a foothold for modern development.

“It should be noted that all developed and developing countries around the world are where they are today because they realized that only through science, technology and innovation can all our problems be addressed,” he said.

He added that science, technology and innovation are the key to the present and future development of any nation, since it plays a fundamental role in creating wealth, improving the quality of life and real economic growth and transformation. of any society.

“The STI sector will allow us to come out strong and meet our technological challenges with ease, thus stopping the threat of poverty and evil youthful unrest, terrorism, kidnapping and banditry that currently plague the country,” he said.

However, Ms. Adamu praised the current government’s push for economic diversification, adding that one of the key components that helps economic diversification is technology transfer, which is the innovation capacity of any organization that wants to prosper technologically. .

He noted that increased economic diversification will expose Nigeria to opportunities to utilize its technological prowess and become more capable of generating new technological solutions due to cross-fertilization of ideas between different diversification knowledge areas, thus producing positive effects on our performance. of innovation.

While the Expo may have achieved considerable success, there are so many challenges that need to be addressed before Nigeria can make a significant impact. R&D funding problems have been very difficult due to the scarcity of funds.

Even 0.5 percent of GDP devoted to R&D is a shortfall of the 1 percent recommended by the African Union. Therefore, the need for extra-budgetary sources to finance STI has become critical if Nigeria is to achieve its goals.