By: Angula Jessica
Undeniably, only countries which have embossed the world with colossal images of their awe-inspiring technologies have economic viability, stability and command respect among the comity of nations.
The world itself is knowledge-driven and technologically advanced countries reap bountifully from the seeds of their intellectual investments in science and technology, which have limitless dimensions. It was former President OBJ who humoured that Nigerians import everything, including toothpick. In fact, the world would become one huge, dark jungle in the absence of science and technology, much as its illumination today is by this grace.
Nigeria would have been a more prosperous nation had the country paid sufficient attention to harnessing its science and technological endowments and potentials. Over the years, Nigeria has taken some steps to consummate science and technology. But the attempts have been very feeble and yielded insignificant results. But the circumstances Nigeria has found itself today, needs technological revolution now, more than the imperatives it detected yesterday.
The establishment of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) by Decree 33 of 1992 and further democratized under an Act of the National Assembly in 2004, is Nigeria’s loudest expression of her thirst for ascending the ladder of science and technology. As it is commonplace with most Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) agencies, the laudable initiatives in the conception of NASENI have suffered years of oblivion or neglect by successive governments and even leadership of the agency.
Until the appointment of Professor Engr. Mohammed Sani Haruna as Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the agency in 2013, NASENI was buried in the mesh of numbers of FGN agencies, existing only in name.
NASENI ‘s mandate is broad and summarized as the development of Capital goods research, production and reverse engineering. The agency’s lofty goals are further simplified as superintending over engineering materials; industrial and analytical chemical materials; scientific equipment and components; engineering equipment; engineering designs and standardization and power equipment. And several development institutes across the country are established under NASENI to assist actualize the nuances of its mandate, which has competitively remained indolent for years.
Precisely, in the past two decades, the agency functioned more in limbo as most Nigerians had no knowledge about its existence, much more the potentials embedded in it, they could explore for Nigeria’s technological, economic cum national development.
The blurring of the capacity of NASENI to meet its mandate was further worsened by the failure of successive governments to effect the statutory funding of the Agency. Nigeria’s unstable policies in the science and technology sector were another lethal blow.
But the crowning of Professor Haruna as NASENI’s chief administrator has re-jigged the narrative for the agency. His innovative and creatively sparkling leadership of NASENI is beginning to expose the multiple hidden treasures of the agency which have been submerged by years of poor leadership and politicking.
Professor Haruna’s vision for NASENI angles to see Nigeria, as an advanced and technologically innovative nation, driven by local content for production. Or, he envisages the adoption of home-grown approaches and manpower resources in resolving the country’s multifaceted economic woes through science and technology.
In pursuit of these objectives to set NASENI on sound footing for result-oriented service delivery to the nation, Prof. Haruna, first embarked on internal re-organization of the seven development institutes under the agency. He injected fresh blood into system and streamlined a new focus and targets for the institutes by appointing new Managing Directors to pilot their affairs.
And in the last two years, Prof. Haruna has impressively exposed and repositioned NASENI to positively respond to the technological needs of Nigeria. His pragmatic leadership of the agency has advertised the strength and competence of the once sleepy, but vastly enriching agency to meet Nigeria’s domestic technological aspirations through local content.
For instance, NASENI’s leadership under Haruna has successfully launched a solar-powered electronic voting machine, which is by far, a more effective, reliable and dependable voting device than the model used by INEC in the 2015 general elections. The device, which when mass produced can be used for the 2019 elections is the brainchild of the Electronic Development Institute ( ELDI), Awka, Anambra state, an institute under the supervision of NASENI.
At its presentation to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the NASENI boss illustrated its many merits, including its capacity to eliminate all manner of voting frauds prevalent in Nigeria’s electoral system. The NASENI electronic voting machine has also provided answers to diaspora voting and incorporate features such as facial recognition of the voter and many more.
The mass production of NASENI’s e-voting machine locally would save Nigeria hard earned foreign exchange previously used in the procurement of imported foreign e-voting machines. It will provide jobs for unemployed Nigerians and earn the country FOREX when exported to other countries in Africa and beyond.
In power generation, NASENI has spurred the ingenuity of Nigerian engineers, as he has already commissioned the pilot unit of the made-in-Nigeria Propeller Turbines Technology. The electricity generation device, a product of one its development institutes, Engineering Materials Development Institute (EMDI), Akure, has passed all tests of viability, installed and is perfectly functioning at Awara Dam, Ikare, Akoko North East LGA of Ondo State.
Prof. Haruna admitted that the propeller turbine technology is a scientific masterpiece, not replicated anywhere in the world. More to it, the device is designed to function and generate electricity where there are no waterfalls or dams. This device can speedy-up FGN’s desire to massively electrify rural communities in Nigeria.
And the indigenous technology streaks of NASENI have kept budding in different directions. As he presented the light weapon designs, laboratory equipment, new energy-saving lamp products and other inventions to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, it additionally confirmed the usefulness of the agency under a focused and purposeful leader, who is poised to railroad Nigeria on the technological map of the globe through NASENI.
President Buhari who was obviously amazed at the suppression of the technological ingenuity of Nigerians, exclaimed that “Looking at your work—the laboratory equipment, the weapons designs; these are things that can save us resources if you can coordinate with existing specialist agencies and work together. The President consequently directed NASENI to partner with the Defence Industries Corporation to manufacture the light weapons it has designed.
Apart from the already completed and certified technological inventions of NASENI under the realistic and result-oriented leadership of Prof. Haruna, the agency is working assiduously to break more grounds and open new vistas in Nigeria’s technological advancement. The agency’s boss has received several accolades from several quarters by Nigerians who have spotted his silent, but grandeur technological revolutions in the country.
Haruna has been feted by both the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET). Both bodies were marveled by the technological exploits of NASENI under its current boss. These separate bodies have sued for adequate funding and the support of the leadership of NASENI under Haruna to perform the technological wonders Nigeria needs desperately like oxygen to surge ahead as a nation worth its onions.
Nigerians must realized that due to the downturn in the economic fortunes of Nigeria, the country desperately needs foreign exchange by shoring-up its exportation capacity; it needs to depend more on consumption of locally made goods and services; it has to desperately evolve into an industrialized nation. And these are puzzles NASENI under Prof. Haruna has demonstrated its ingenuity and competence to solve by contributing substantially in these areas to make Nigeria better and great. The inventions of NASENI can service domestic consumption and export, if the agency is properly supported, funded and encouraged to reach its zenith.
Angula, an Oil and Gas expert contributed this piece from the United Kingdom.