Nigerian president directs scientific agency to bridge gap in COVID-19 research

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja directed the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to work towards bridging the gaps in research and technology that keeps Nigeria waiting on other countries for supplies and solutions, especially in tackling challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a meeting with the Board of NASENI at the State House, the President, who is also the Chairman of the Board, said the agency should play a more pivotal role in equipping the country during emergencies while encouraging research, upgrading local skills, fabrication and international collaborations that will provoke growth in science and technology.

“The   uniqueness   of   the   mandate   of   NASENI   as   enshrined   in   its enabling law towards the actualization and realization of our development programmes such as creation of Ten Million jobs; Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (ERGP) and Post COVID-19 sustainability Plan.

“It is only deliberate deployment of Engineering, Science, Technology and   Innovation   (ESTI)   using   technology   domestication   and   reverse engineering of capital goods; making them available in Nigeria that can fast-track realization of our collective will to build capacity and reduce poverty among our teeming populace.

“The countries that are at the forefront of economic recovery have only   one   thing   in   common: investment   and   sustained   research   and development   work   in   knowledge   economy.   COVID-19   pandemic   has exposed the   Technology   and   innovation   gap   between   us   and   the developed World, which NASENI is strategically positioned to fill.’’

President Buhari said he had earlier approved the reconstitution and inauguration of the Governing   Board   on   8th   March,   2018, with a clear mandate to develop   local capacity in machine building and fabrication, which will be critical to Nigeria’s industrial development.

“However,   in   order   to   realize   its   full   potential,   NASENI   must   be empowered   through   the   provision   of   adequate   financial,   human   and material resources and be given the autonomy and independence to forge international partnerships to acquire the relevant technologies for socio-economic and industrial advancement of the country.

“In this regard, I have directed the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget   and   National   Planning   and   Federal   Inland   Revenue Service to commence remittance of funds approved by Law to the Agency.’’

The President also directed the Minister   of   Finance to   conclude   negotiation   and acceptance   of   85 per cent   funding   source   for   establishment   of   Solar   Cells production,   High   Voltage   testing   laboratory   and   Transformer   in collaboration with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

“It is important for members of NASENI Governing Board to note that Agencies   of   Government   with   similar   mandate   as   NASENI   in   many countries are directly under the supervision of their respective Heads of State and Government.’’

At the meeting, President Buhari approved the National Tractor Refurbishment and Recovery Programme, which will cater for the repair and repositioning of more than 55,000 tractors across the country, and collaboration  with Belgium Helicopter Manufacturing Company (Dynali Company) for helicopter production.

In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Professor M.S Haruna, said the agency had invested in human capacity development that translated into manufacturing of a kinetic turbine, pre-paid metres, transformers, brick moulding machines, laboratory equipment and unmanned aerial drones.

He said the agency also intervened in producing 3-Dmasks, ventilators and environment disinfectants for the COVID-19, noting that it had constructed electronic voting systems and was already working on locally produced jet engines and assemblage of passenger and military helicopters.

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