The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has called on those in charge of Nigeria’s education sector to always encourage students to show keen interest in the study of science, technology and engineering, saying no nation’s economy can grow without input from the sector.
Dr Onu said Nigeria’s plan to land in space and explore it can be actualized when Nigerian students are exposed sufficiently to the teachings and learning of science and engineering.
The minister, who addressed a huge gathering today during the 2020 National Convention of Izzi High School, Abakaliki (his alma mater ) said that countries such as Singapore, China, Japan and others, who used to be at the same level of development with Nigeria, had all moved ahead in advancing their science and engineering.
He said: “Think about Singapore, Japan, China and others who now manufacture some of the telephone handsets we’re using today in our country; they were able to achieve this because they allowed their science and technology to develop and now that sector is contributing immensely to their economic growth because they sell their products to us and we pay and buy.”
Onu, who graduated from the Izzi High School, Abakaliki in the early 1970s, said that “We’re planning to produce citizens who can land in, and explore the space, but it is possible only if we teach and learn science, technology and engineering. It may take us 30, 50 or more years but it’s achievable.”
He recalled how disturbed he felt when he realized that his school did not offer sciences at the time he wanted to enroll. “It was very disturbing to me to know that my new school didn’t offer Additional Mathematics in WAEC that year,” he said, adding that he decided to weather the storm by teaching himself since he was bent on reading sciences.
Onu said the problem with Nigeria is that “we have always allowed the economy to depend entirely on one sector, that is oil; and of course, agriculture which we’re are diversifying into”, stressing that whenever there was a sharp drop in the price of oil, “and because we have little or no control over the price in the international market, it will affect our economy adversely.”
According to him, “All the recessions we have experienced in the past, arose from this problem,” noting that “it’s important that we create awareness about the need to emphasise the teaching and learning of science and engineering to help grow our national economy.”
He said that Izzi High School, Abakaliki has contributed a lot to nation-building by the caliber of graduates it has produced over the years – graduates who later became governors, ministers, deputy inspector general of police, High Court judges, etc, pointing out that these quality human beings have contributed their quota to nation-building because of their early background nurtured by their school.
Onu donated to the school 10 sets of laboratory kits covering all aspects of science, 10 laptops, two desktops and hundreds of copies of different books ranging from philosophy, politics, poetry, biography to science and technology – which were all written by him.