REVITALIZING RESEARCH INSTITUTES
The recent decision by the Federal Government to revitalize the Projects Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, and other research institutes in the country is commendable.
Also, the indication that President Goodluck Jonathan would commission the first wholly made in Nigeria prime mover (engine) in the next six months is no less exciting. The engine is to be produced by the Science Equipment Development Institute (SEDI), Enugu.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, who made a facility tour of PRODA and SEDI recently, said that the present administration is committed to research and development, as well as revitalization of ailing industries. The minister hinted that government has collaborated with the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) in securing accreditation for PRODA to enhance its operations.
We commend the renewed interest in research and development by the present administration. It has come at the right time. There is hope that it will help in our march to industrialization.
Particularly more heartwarming is the prospect of commissioning the first made in Nigeria engine. There is no doubt that with the commissioning of the engine, the country will be in a vintage position to produce several machines that would launch us into the industrial orbit.
But this cannot happen if the problems that led to the neglect of research institutes in the recent past are not addressed. Early in the year, we decried the persistent neglect of research institutes in one of our editorials. In that piece, we underscored the pitiable picture of the institutes and the need to adequately fund them.
Just as we had earlier canvassed, research institutes are, indeed, the bedrock of national development. And, for a country like ours still grappling to catch up with other nations, the place of vibrant research institutes cannot be over-emphasized.
Never again should our research institutes be neglected. Neglecting them is tantamount to postponing our industrial and technological development. With government's new interest, we hope that this trend will be reversed for good.
All over the world, research is the engine room of development. Statistics have shown that countries with high research index are higher in development. In other words, a country's development rate is increased by the quantum of its research. This can explain why many African countries are not yet among highly industrialized nations of the world.
If we really want to develop, we must begin to pay attention to research. Any nation without strong and well-funded research institutes cannot really lay claim to be aspiring to industrial development. At best, such a country is rudderless and visionless. It is time government starts investing in research in order to accelerate national development. Depending on imports for all our industrial needs is not the best. It is not the solution to our myriad of problems. It will lead to over-dependence and overt consumerism.
However, this new interest in research institutes will only be a pipe dream if the institutes are not well funded and equipped. For the lofty dreams of research institutes to be realised, government should take adequate care of scientists, technologists and other workers that man them. Taking good care of their welfare will help them to concentrate on their work.
We commend the government for the renewed interest in research. The relevant authorities should pursue the new plan for the institutes with utmost vigour and determination so that we will be able to realise the objective of being among the top 20 developed economies in the world by the year 2020.