“Except an underdeveloped nation gives priority attention to investment in science and technology innovation, adequate finance, including deliberate development of the human capital sector, the dichotomy between the third world and the advanced countries will continue to widen, and therefore the solution lies mainly at the extent to which Science and Engineering infrastructure have been developed towards massive industrialization of the country”.
With those words, the Senate Committee on Science and Technology Innovation led by its Chairman, Dr. Uche Ekwunife today in Abuja embarked on its 2022 oversight function on activities of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) headquarters, even as the Senators enjoined NASENI to chart a new economic paths and prosperity for the Nation.
Howbeit the oversight meeting was spiked with commendation and encomiums poured on the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna and management by the distinguished Senators who acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the headship of the Agency in the renewed efforts to chart fresh direction toward industrialisation of the country while enjoining the Agency to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria’s emergence as knowledge based economy.
The Senate Committee Chairman specifically urged NASENI to deliver on its 1% statutory allocation from the Federation Account which is now provided and its 0.25% levy on commercial companies with turnover of N100 million to be credited to the Agency soon by the Federal inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as enacted in the law and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
Mrs. Uche Ekwunife in her opening remarks before tour of on-going projects said ”the only difference between developed and under-developed countries is infrastructural development and NASENI has the funding required now to bridge that gap for Nigeria, therefore to whom much is given, much is expected”. She urged NASENI to remain in the frontline for industrial revolution of Nigeria and to spend its fund judiciously as there would be no excuse for failure, even as she said that ”the Senate believed in the capacities of Men and women in the employment of the Agency”
She said, NASENI’s new status as direct beneficiary of frontline charge in the Federation Account puts so much burden on it as the Agency was no longer in the budget system of the Federal Government but relies solely on income from the Federation account and levy from the FIRS, adding that the Senate was able to achieve this feat not because President Mohammed Buhari is the Chairman of the Agency’s board but also the President had the interest to develop the nation through science, technology and innovation just like the lawmakers.
NASENI was created in 1992 to make available in the Nigeria market, the primary and intermediate capital products required for machine and equipment design, fabrication and mass production in order to provide enabling environments for sustainable industrialization of the country. According to Senator Ekwunife “the legislative arm of the government is ever determined to encourage any positive step taken towards the development of Science and Engineering Infrastructure for socio-economic well-being of the nation”
NASENI, she remarked, has proven its capacity to deliver development goods through its achievements in the production and promotion of local contents with its numerous innovations, and that was the reason why it got massive supports from the legislative arm of government both Senate and the House of Representatives.
She recalled that the Senate Committee had at various times in the past engaged the FIRS over the companies levy accruable to NASENI as provided by the Act establishing the Agency and eventually secured application of its provision in the Act, “It is also on record that in December last year, the Committee participated in the debates for $276.9 million Chinese loan to NASENI and eventually got the loan approved”.
Speaking on the reasons why the Committee embarked on the oversight visit, she said, “central to the visit amongst others are to ensure that public funds are expended in cost effective and cost-efficient manner, evaluate programmes of the Agency and acquisition of useful information for future policy making and decisions”. She said the Committee was interested in the success of NASENI projects like the establishment of Transformer Production Plant and High Voltage Testing Laboratory and also to evaluate the progress recorded with NASENI’s collaboration with Indonesia on technology transfer in the areas of aircrafts design, spare parts production, military vehicles weaponry, ammunition and military vessels among other ongoing projects of the Agency”
Responding, the EVC/CE who led the Committee on the facility and projects tour said that the management of the Agency would do all that are required of it to justify its new funding status as expected in the renewed journey of Nigeria toward industrialization having NASENI at the driver seat, while assuring all that the Agency will not disappoint Nigeria .