FG pledges to spend half of Nigeria’s GDP on research, innovation

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, represents President Muhammadu Buhari as the Special Guest of Honour at the 2021 Tech and Innovation Expo at the Eagles Square, Abuja, March 15, 2021. Photo: State House/Tolani Alli

President Muhammadu Buhari says a minimum of 0.5 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be allocated to research and innovation in order to accelerate development.

Buhari disclosed this on Monday in Abuja while declaring open five-day Technology and Innovation Expo 2021, organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

The theme of the EXPO is: “Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainability Amidst COVID-19 Challenges’’.

The tech expo is aimed at showcasing research and development results and the products and services of inventive minds in the country.

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said that in the past few years, the Federal Government had also made considerable improvement in the budgetary allocation to the ministry.

“This has helped increase research and innovation with the aim of achieving sustainable development.

“We are happy that this has been achieved in line with the decision taken by the African Union’s Executive Council in 2006 to establish a target for all member States of 1 per cent of GDP investment in research and development in order to improve innovation, productivity and economic growth.

“We are aware that only a few African countries have met this target, but as a result of the challenges of this critical sector of the economy, we will allocate a minimum of 0.5 per cent of our GDP to research and innovation as a way to fast track meaningful development.

“In February 2018, I issued Executive Order No. 5 (“EO5”) by which all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government were directed to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and maximise in-country capacity in all contracts and transactions with science, engineering and technology components.’’

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Buhari said that the EO5 was inspired by the recognition of the vital role of science, technology and innovation in national economic development, especially in promoting domestic goods and services.

According to him, it buttresses federal government’s strategic intent to harness domestic talents and develop indigenous capacities in science and technology to promote national competitiveness and productivity across all sectors of the economy.

“This administration will continue to support the Science, Technology and Innovation Sector by expanding the opportunities open to those working in those fields.

“This expo is a practical demonstration of this commitment; today, I urge all the Researchers, Inventors and Innovators who are participating in this Expo to be steadfast as the Government has confidence that your results, products and services will help make Nigeria a truly great nation respected all over the world.

“I am confident that through hard work and determination and by effectively harnessing our potential in science, technology and innovation, we will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and build a nation that meets the aspirations of all our citizens and earns the respect of the world.’’

Buhari said that the federal government was presently working to bridge the digital divide by increasing access to broadband; the National Broadband Plan which was launched earlier in the year.

The plan is aimed at achieving 90 per cent broadband penetrations by 2025.

The president said that plan would give special attention to the unserved and underserved areas when deploying telecom services.

Earlier, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology,  said the event was important and historic.

He said that the Expo, had over the years, impacted significantly on Nigeria’s quest to achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Onu thanked Buhari for his efforts at promoting science and technology in the country.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of prizes to first, second and third positions of 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774-YONSPA) by the president.

The first post position went to Edeani Godswill representing Enugu State; the second position was bagged by Akinwande Tomisin representing Ondo State, while Etukudo Emmanuel representing FCT took the third position.

Buhari also led ministers, permanent secretaries and leadership of the National Assembly, among others, on a tour of exhibition pavilions.