By Ijeoma Ndubisi
Abuja – Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister for Science and Technology on Thursday urged young scientists to contribute in making the country self-reliant.
Onuh made the appeal during the annual final national examinations for the 774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (YONSPA) held in Abuja.
The examination was to encourage youths develop interest in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
The competition was organised at the 774 Local Government Areas across the country while the best 37 students were selected to represent the 36 states of the country including the FCT.
According to Onuh, the country is facing economic recession for dependending so on petroleum proceeds.
“No matter the difficulties of the moment, yes today we are in a recession and we are in a recession because the price of crude oil fell sharply.
“It happened because we depend solely on petroleum products, so anytime there is a sharp decline on petroleum products, it affects our economy.
“With your generation, it will no longer happen to our economy.
“If we have knowledge based economy that is innovation driven, anytime there is a sharp drop in the price of commodities, other things will come up like manufacturing, tourism to fill that gap.
“With bright people like you, Nigeria should not be found wanting, we should be able to manufacture the things we need.
“Today, many of the things we need are imported and there is so much pressure on our naira.
“We have natural resources and it is through your efforts that these natural resources can be converted to products and services that we need so that we won’t import any more.
“We want you to come up and help, we know that the future of Nigeria is bright with the younger generation,” Onuh said.
The minister observed that the country was blessed with diverse mineral resources, human capital, adding that it was capable of attaining great heights at the international space with STI.
He reiterated that the future of the country was dependent on science, technology and youths should leverage on that.
“Nigeria has almost all the known minerals of notes, we have them in different parts of the country and we have the human resource.
“We are the most populous in Africa and one of the most populous in the world, our weather is very good, our soil is rich, you don’t need fertilisers for plants to grow.
“We urge you to join and innovate things for the country for posterity sake, help make Nigeria self sufficient, we want to be a nation that will be respected by other countries.
“The only way we can do it is to make contributions that other countries recognise.
“The future of the world belongs to science and technology, so once you embrace science and technology, the future will be in your hands to do great things for yourselves and the world,” he said.
He, however urged the participants to do their best for themselves, the schools and states they represented.
Onuh added that the best three students would be part of the country’s delegation in an international Olympiad later in the year and would be recognised at the Technology and Innovation Exposition to hold also later in the year.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Belema Wakama, who welcomed the students for the examination told them that the criteria for grading them would be fair.
She noted that the country had renowned scientists working in different parts of the world, adding that the students should endeavour to be enlisted among such experts.
Master Immaculate Akele, a student representing Delta state said that the competition was a breeding ground to pull out young innovators in the society.
According to him, the innovations by the young scientists will help develop the country’s economy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Anambra, Imo, Delta, Benue were some of the states that participated, while Senior Secondary students in their second and third grades were part of the competition.
Lagos, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kebbi and Rivers were some of the states absent from the competition.