By Muktar Tahir
The Engineering thematic group of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund’s Research and Development Standing Committee, RDSC, has said that for Nigeria to migrate from the current resource-based to knowledge-based economy, there is an urgent need for investment in the area of engineering, technology and material sciences.
The coordinator of the group, Emeritus Prof Mosto Onuoha stated this while making a virtual presentation of his paper on the theme: ‘Institutionalisation of Research and Development in Nigeria’s Engineering, Technology and Material Science’, monitored via Zoom.
He said: “This is the time to begin to encourage intellectual and technological innovations in Nigeria. The whole purpose of national development is to continuously build up the capacity of a nation to grapple with the whole gamut national problems e.g., poverty eradication, provision of productive employment, and satisfaction of the basic needs of the people e.g., like food and shelter, basic education and health facilities, security, provision of clean water for the people, etc.”
Mr Onuoha stressed the need for Nigerian government to improve the competitiveness of its goods and services and enhance ranking of its tertiary institutions on the global scale.
He said: “Innovation is a key to maintaining a country’s competitive position in the Global Economy. Small businesses and universities play a key role in the innovation process. New institutions and incentives are required to address new realities in global competition, like the creation a National R&D Foundation.”
To achieve these, according to him, the Federal Government must ensure adequate funding of Research and Development, especially in Engineering, Technology and Material Science.
Mr Onuoha, therefore, called for the actualization of the proposed National Research and Development Foundation, NRDF, saying that the foundation would serve as the special purpose vehicle for actualization the country’s migration to knowledge-based economy.
He, however, said that the country was not doing badly in terms of Research and Development activities, adding that most of the universities his team visited had excellent engineering programs with good and qualified members of faculty.
The don said: “Most of the government-owned research institutes visited were working very hard to fulfil their various mandates, e.g., NASENI, FIIRO and NBRRI. And those institutes located within or affiliated with a university seemed to benefit immensely from collaboration with colleagues in other Departments within the university.”