By Seun Adams
The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade and the Chairperson on House of Representatives Committee Chair on Science and Technology, Hon. Beni Lar, have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for given a presidential approval to the National Agency for Science and Infrastructure (NASENI) through financial support to commence massive commercial industry level research in science and technology.
The duo, noted that this positive push from the President through evoking the 1992 Act establishing it has been become imperative as this is what NASENI under the sterling leadership qualities of its Executive Vice Chairman/CE, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, needs to leapfrog Nigeria into global industrial and technological hub.
Speaking at the sidelined at the conferment of Outstanding Performance on the Governor and the Outstanding Legislator Award on Beni Lar, at the weekend at NASENI Hedaquarters in Abuja, Ayade, said:
“What Nigeria had in 1960 as political independence was not complete until the country ends her over dependence on foreigners for everything that they need.
“So, the independence of Nigeria in 1960 was a mere political independence, but true independence is when becomes self-reliant in technology and in engineering and that is why NASENI has come eventually with the Presidential and NEC approvals for NASENI to have her dues by what is provided in the Constitution for them to have 1% of the federation account.”
Once the implementation commences, he added that NASENI will be in a position to begin to do the real research in science and engineering to proffer solution and innovative technology that meets our needs within our means.
Ayade, explained: “Time has come when Africans and indeed Nigerians cannot continuously depend on foreigners to tell us what to tell us what to do.
“In this massive sunlight that we have here do we need a white man to come here to tell us that you can trap the sun and convert to electricity. In this hot climate you need a white man to come here to show us how to make an air-condition to be able to make the place colder.”
While expressing optimism that Nigeria will soon become Africa’s technology hub, he added that NASENI is here to bridge that gap adding: that is why I come in person to honour this award because as professor of science, I need to fellowship with my colleague who is also a professor in engineering to say that we must stand strong as a nation.
The entire Africa depends on Nigeria, if Nigeria fails, Africa has failed, he added.
In her remark also at the sideline, Beni Lar, commended NASENI for its integrity and reliability in effectively dispensing fund that is always allocated to them, stressing: “NASENI, has once again proven itself to be an agency that can be relied upon to judiciously use the funds given to them.”
According to her: “Over time we have had oversight on this agency we have also examined them their records and to be honest with you, NASENI is one of the agencies in Nigeria where you get value for money.”
While expressing confidence, on Prof. Haruna, she added: “Anywhere there is a NASENI project you find out that that project is not only well executed but that government funds are judiciously utilized.
“Therefore, I have confidence that it is the players that make the agencies work.”
“I must say that in the case of NASENI we have seen that over the years they judiciously used what they are given and I believe that this one 1% which has been generously released to them by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the President Muhammadu Buhari, I believed that it will be judiciously used because they have a budget for it and the National Assembly has reviewed the budget and approved it.
“I know that going by their past records they have always judiciously expended above and beyond what is expected of them.”
On shoddy jobs, she said, a lot of times you see contractors doing shoddy jobs, but NASENI does not do shoddy job, they leave a mark in the sense that whatever job or project NASENI has executed when you go back 10 years later you will find that that project is still standing which is not the case.
“I want to commend them but say that the National will continue to monitor because it is the absence of oversight that breeds corruption so we will continue to strengthen oversight by checking on each and every government expenditure which I’m sure will be judiciously utilized.”
In his remark, the EVC commended the Unions for the initiative to honour those who had contributed to the achievements made by the agency.
According to him, it was a justification that the workers were committed to work hard, especially now that they have been given resources that they needed to demonstrate their capability to meet the demand and the challenges given to them.
On the partnership with State Governors, Haruna, said: “We have partnership with the Governors Forum and the collaboration is working.
Other recipients of the awards included: Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, Mrs. Nonyem Onyechi who is the Coordinating Director, Planning and Business Development, NASENI, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Dr. Uche Ekwunife, Dr Mohammed Aminu Mohammed, Director of Procurement, NASENI, and many others.
The Appreciation and Award Day ceremony was organized by the three Trade Unions of the NASENI Headquarters, under the auspices of Joint Action Congress (JAC) where the Congress recognized those who had helped the Agency to attain its present status of national importance.