As committee meetings draw close to conclusion, the committee on science and technology in a bid a make relevant recommendations invited the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology Mrs. Winifred, E. Oyo-Ita FCA, to get detailed information from her relating to the development of science and technology in the country. Mrs. Winifred addressed the committee on what has been done and the steps the ministry is taking for the advancement of science and technology in the country.
In a press interview after her presentation at the committee, Mrs. Winifred said the government is already aware of the importance of science and technology, research, innovation and development. The government is aware that this sector is a major sector that can drive the development of the nation.
She said in 2012, the National Science and Innovation Policy was approved by the Federal Government and that policy has the National Research and Innovation Council with the President as the chairman.
She added that the National Research and Innovation fund are for the progressive development of research and development in Nigeria. Mrs. Winifred advised that the committee on science and technology should recommend that the two councils and their funds should be included in the constitution.
She reiterated that the funds and the council are not just concerned with the ministry of science and technology, but it is made up of all the ministries and agencies that are involved in research and innovation in Nigeria. She cited ministries like Agriculture, Water Resources, Health, Environment, Power, Petroleum Resources and the Science and Technology Ministry as the secretariat.
She noted that if this research council is operating fully, all the research centres present in the council will be synergies with the various sectors involved in science and development. She said that should be part of the focus of the committee on Science and Technology, because there is so much being done by this research centre.
Responding to what the government is doing to discourage dependence on foreigners to drive the science and technology sector, she said, one area that the ministry have noticed weakness is in science education. She added that it is the reason why the research council also has the ministry of education as a member of on research council.
She said “We have to start right from the foundation, from the primary level to get our young people to be interested in science and technology. Once we can catch them young, encourage them with junior science competition, and then we can build on those young talents”. She pointed that the ministry has a special scheme of scholarship for the little ones who show interest in science education and they also use the opportunity to encourage the girl child to go for science education.
Mrs. Winifred said this is because in countries like India, the young females are very critical and productive in their science and research sector. She noted that we should do the same by encouraging our young girls to the gender sensitive opportunities for the girl child.
In addition, Mrs. Winifred said there is something that the ministry find as very disturbing which is education as a career seems to be something that is left for those who lost hope in getting what is termed a better degree or profession.
She stressed that education should not be left to those who couldn’t make good grades in school. She cited that in Finland, teachers are the highest paid, they are the best equipped, they are the ones with the highest qualification. And that the same should happen in our country, she reiterated that those teaching the little ones should be the crème de la crème and not those who are dropouts.
She said that teachers should be given attention and qualitative candidates should be taken for science and technology. She added that qualitative students should be given opportunities to go into teaching and not the dregs or the abandoned of the society.
Mrs. Winifred remarked that she has given them detailed information the committee needs and she believes with the calibre of people in the committee, they will be able to tackle science and technology from its foundation and recommend practical solutions which will take the country forward.
Speaking on the aspect of encouragement from the ministry, she said the encouragement they have offered in various forms is not just only for science and technology, but also for entrepreneurs who want to go into technology development. She concluded that the ministry is doing much in science and technology and with the recommendations that will come from the committee on science and technology; the country will be on the right path to development.