Speech Delivered by The Honorable Minister Of Science And Technology, He Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, To A Joint Meeting Of The Ministry And Its Agencies, Held On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, At The Conference Room, 1st Floor, Block D, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase 2, Abuja

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Ogbonnaya Onu - Hon. Minster of Science and Technology

PROTOCOL:

It is with happiness that I welcome you to our 13th meeting, taking place in the fourth quarter of this year. We have held regular meetings, which have proved very useful in binding us as one family, with a common destiny. Eighteen days from now, I will be two years old as Minister of Science and Technology. Within this period, I have worked with three different Permanent Secretaries, seventeen Heads of Departments and Units in the Headquarters, in addition to seventeen Chief Executive Officers in the Agencies under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

On assumption of office, I set a new goal for the Ministry. It was clear that the direction the country had taken in her economic development since independence needed to be changed, if we were to diversify our economy in a sustainable manner and remain competitive in the production process. It was also clear that this difficult, challenging but rewarding endeavor can only be effectively executed, by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. I am happy that the National Economic and Growth Plan 2017 -2020 recognized this.

In order to achieve our goal, it became necessary for the Ministry to intensify research and innovation, as well as, increase the awareness among the people in the country of the importance of science and technology to their daily needs. Our nation, with 153 Universities, 96 Polytechnics, 82 Colleges of Education, 36 public sector research institutions, in addition to innovation in the informal sector, requires the effective coordination of an efficient Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, to undertake research, development and innovation that can translate into products and services. This is the surest way to create wealth for the nation, create jobs for our people, and drastically reduce poverty in the country.

You will recall that on assumption of duty as the Minister of Science and Technology, I requested that all Agencies should work vigorously on the commercialization of research findings. As the first important step in realizing this, I encouraged all Agencies to protect their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), by obtaining patents for their research findings. I also requested the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), to provide their services in improving the IPR culture in the Universities, Polytechnics and Research Institutes by assisting in absorbing the cost for obtaining patents for their inventions and innovations. I took this step because commercialization of research findings is critical in bringing to the market place the benefits of research and innovation. I specially commend the leadership of NOTAP for the role played in the achievements made so far.

I am happy that we have made very significant progress in this important journey we set for ourselves. Two years ago, in 2015, six patents were granted through the efforts of NOTAP. In 2016, the number increased to 16, more than twice what it was a year earlier. It is significant that by today, October 24, 2017, in less than ten full months, the number of patents granted has risen to 38, more than twice that of 2016. It is anticipated that in the remaining nearly ten weeks, this number will grow to at least 48. Also, we have made very important progress with the private sector to commercialize our research findings. On a single day, we were able to sign three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with three different organizations. Today, we are working with very reputable companies, many of whom are the best in their various sectors, to bring to the market place, products and services from our research and innovation.

In order to maintain this momentum, it has become necessary to ensure that there is effective competition within the various agencies in the Ministry. Those that perform creditably will be rewarded, while those who perform poorly will be punished. All Agencies are expected to set specific targets within their mandate, which should be accomplished within a specified period of time. The assessment of various agencies will be flexible, in accordance with the laws that established them, in order to ensure that there is fairness without bias in their assessment. Distinguished Nigerians from both outside the Ministry and government will perform the assessment.

A Competitiveness Assessment Committee (CAC), will be set up to accomplish this. The CAC will be co-chaired by nominees from the Nigerian Academy of Science and the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. Other members of the Committee will be drawn from the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Science Association of Nigeria, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, National Economic Summit Group, National Universities Commission, etc. The Committee is expected to assess each Agency on its adherence to its mandate, as it affects the quality and relevance of its research and innovation to national development, the number of patents granted, number of commercialized research results, among many others.

This Award will be given every two years, in order to give enough time for the assessment of work done. Many incentives will be put in place to encourage those Agencies that will distinguish themselves. There will be monetary incentive for research purposes, made available to the three top Agencies. The best will get 1 Billion Naira, the second, 500 Million and the third, 200 Million Naira respectively. The Science and Technology Promotion Department (STPD) will supervise the CAC.

All through human history, the reward system has been instrumental in great achievements. I am convinced that by promoting competition among the various agencies in the Ministry, we will be able to achieve our goal of helping our nation, to build a new civilization that will improve the standard of living of our people and also win the respect of other nations. I see a bright future for our dear nation.

MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA