Government to establish science and technology development bank
Stakeholders seek law on patronage of Nigerian vehicles, spare parts
Greater days are ahead for the nation’s innovation industry, as the Federal Government yesterday announced that it was setting up the nation’s first science and technology development bank.
The bank, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology, would help boost the process of technological development in the country by giving financial assistance for research and innovations.
Minister of Science, Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who dropped this hint at a meeting with the Motormechs and Technicians Association of Nigeria (MOMTAN), in Abuja, explained that, the bank would be different from the regular banks and would focus on attractive longer term facilities, which people in the innovation industry can take advantage of.
He said: “We already have a programmes whereby we are working on establishing a science and technology development bank. We believe that it is important. It will help our people in the informal sector. It will also help us to close technology gaps in the country so that as a motor mechanic, if you need financial assistance you can get. If you go to a regular bank, they may not have the resources to give you for three to four years for innovation before paying back.
“They won’t do that because they don’t have that kind of money. But a science and technology development bank will do so because you will be a venture capital holder of such bank.”
He charged the Association to develop research capabilities to enhance their activities and the capacity of their members.
“We want your members to play a greater role in research and innovation. We want you to do some research. Research is not only done in laboratories. If in the process of maintaining vehicle you find a way of improving any of the systems in the car, it is already an innovation and the process is a research,” Onu charged.
Speaking earlier, President of the Association, Dr. Akin Oseni, charged government to respect the provisions of the National Automotive Policy, and restrict car import, stressing the need to patronize cars locally made ones.
He noted: “In chapter four of the National Automotive Policy, it is clearly stated that government and her agencies should purchase locally produced automotive vehicles and spare parts for all their programmes and projects, but there is no law in this country compelling them to equally patronize our local mechanics and technicians.
“ That itself is a missing link. In countries like South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa and Indonesia, they invested in their local artisans heavily to attain the height they are today. According to the Federal Road Safety Commission’s plate number issuing office, records show that over nine million cars entered Nigeria between 1999-2009 and between 2009-2014 just between periods of 15 years. Then we can begin to imagine how many cars, trucks and buses are running on the Nigerian roads and then resume discussion on the importance of our mechanics and technicians.
“ For any meaningful development in the nation’s automobile and allied sector in particular and science and technology in general to be achieved, it is important that many issues are to be examined or re-examined.”
He called for a deliberate plan to be put in place for the training and retraining of mechanics and technicians with provisions of adequate tools for them.
He also called for an intense made in Nigeria and buy Nigerian vehicles campaign. On what the Association expects of government, he noted: “ The Federal Government should develop ancillary industries for the production of car components and accessories and involve our mechanics in full. The Ministry of Science and Technology should establish a research department that includes mechanics and technicians as committee members. The government should ensure that vehicle standards are maintained. Let government build and develop local technical and maintenance expertise though the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“Another big challenge is the inconsistency in the issuance and retainership of the mechanics works yard popularly called mechanics villages.”
He called on government to release the land already allocated to the mechanics since 2010.