Initiatives on research will revive industrial sector – MAN
For the country's manufacturing sector to assume its strategic position in the economy, there is need for purposeful collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the various research institutions under its purview and the Manufacturers' Association of Nigeria (MAN).
MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs made this assertion when he led his members to a meeting with the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, in Abuja, at the weekend.
Jacobs said the association had already opened a window of collaboration with some polytechnics in the country for well rounded industrial training of graduates, who would fit appropriately into the manufacturing needs of the country.
He said MAN was seeking same collaboration with the ministry and its research institutes for local raw materials development.
Jacobs noted: 'Currently, the average percentage of raw materials/ inputs utilized by our industries is 54 per cent. There is need for a significant reduction in the shortest possible time. This is a challenge that MAN is throwing to the Ministry and its research institutions.
'A compendium of foreign raw materials and inputs of our members is at present being compiled. We shall oblige the Ministry with the outcome with a view to meeting this challenge. We are aware of the recent launching of the National Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) policy by President Muhammadu Buhari and the allocation of a seat to MAN on the governing council. We congratulate your Ministry in particular and the Federal Government in general for this bold step.
'The more of local materials and inputs consumed by the manufacturing sector, the more the widened scope of research and development,' he added.
Onu commended the MAN for its contributions to national development over the years.
'We know you have been working under difficult conditions but we need you. Nigeria needs MAN because we can't continue to be mere consuming nation. We must produce many of the things that we need. And to do that we need the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to work efficiently.
'I want to assure you that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will cooperate and collaborate with you. We share the same objective. Our interest is to make sure that our raw materials are effectively utilized. There is no reason whatsoever for manufacturers to be importing raw materials that are available in the country. It will be far better for us as a nation that when these raw materials are now utilized in our own factories to produce the products that we need in our market.'
He assured that the Ministry had taken a new posture in terms of the sort of research and developmental work that it has been embarking.
His words: 'We want to make sure that whatever research and developmental work we do is market driven and that we will be responding to the urgent needs of the nation.
In all, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology has a very important role to play. But to grow the economy and create new jobs, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has a very critical role to play and we want to urge you to do more than what you have done so far to help in expanding your capacity so as to increase jobs that are created.
'We don't have any excuse to give that we cannot employ our people. If a country like China with about 1.4 billion people can give employment to most of her citizens, we can't say because we are the most populous nation in Africa, we employ our people. That is not a good reason. It is not tenable and for that reason we will give every support that you need.'
He said the Raw Material Research and Development Council is working to make sure that value is added to the nation's raw materials.
'By adding value to it, it is going to help to create jobs and also help to get our raw materials to the level that industries will need it to be in effective production and utilize it to help us grow our economy. I am happy that you mentioned backward integration. It is absolutely necessary. If we do backward integration and import substitution, all these will help us to make sure that before long we will be in a position to produce many of the things that we currently import into the country,' he said.
He assured that the Ministry would promote made in Nigeria goods
'In view of the state of the economy and the need for us as a nation to grow our economy and to be truly the great nation that we ought to be, we have to patronize made in Nigeria goods. It is a patriotic duty and other nations have done so,' he added. The Guardian