The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, has harped on the importance of science and engineering to nation-building, stressing that soon Nigeria would join the league of countries in space exploration.
He stressed that the strength of the economy of any nation was dependent on its scientific and technological advancement.
Mr Onu stated this in a keynote address delivered at the 2020 National Convention of the Izzi Old Students Association held at the Faculty of Education, Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Ishieke campus.
The minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had repositioned and strengthened the science and technological sector to play a leading role in the current efforts to diversify the country’s economy.
Mr Onu who highlighted advantages of science, technology and engineering urged teachers and school administrators to encourage younger generation of students to embrace science, engineering and technology.
“It is sad that the students after rendering the school’s anthem started mentioning the professions that they will like to pursue, but not even one mentioned engineering.
“The principals and teachers should bring people who can enlighten the students on the importance of engineering to nation-building.
“It will be very sad if in this school we don’t have young people aspiring to be engineers because in Nigeria we have plans to send people to the space.
“Yes, we have that plan; don’t ever think it cannot be done, it may take 20 years, 30 years, but we have that plan and I will be very happy to see somebody from this school to go into space and you cannot do it without science and engineering.
“There are so many resources we have in our state and in our country and one problem we have faced is that we have always allowed our economy to depend entirely on commodities.
“First, we started with agricultural products and later with petroleum products; crude oil and natural gas without adding anything.
“We have seen that because we don’t control prices of crude oil in the international market and whenever there is a sharp drop in prices, it adversely affects our national economy and we enter into recession.
“All recessions that we have gotten into arose from this; and we have seen countries including South Korea that we were far better off in the 1960s, today their gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is many times what we used to have.
“All the mobile phones we are using they come from South Korea, there is no area of technology that they are not involved in.
“We have also seen what has happened to China, Japan and Singapore, whether small or large, so, you cannot really grow the economy without emphasising science and engineering,” Mr Onu said.
Mr Onu urged old students of the institution who have excelled in different fields of endeavour to look back and see how they could help the school regain its past glory.
He said: “This school should be celebrated. I am happy that we have all assembled today to celebrate this great school.
“The old boys have a very important role to play in nation-building; this they can do through strengthening their alma mater, improving the quality of teaching and standard of infrastructure as well as providing mentioning and guidance to young students.
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“Old students as role models have become stars that show the light for young students to find their way; they help the younger ones to dream dreams and help them to have visions of what they want to be.”
The minister called for establishment of scholarship scheme to enable poor students of the institution to pursue their academic dreams.
He said education especially when it encouraged innovation and creativity remained the key to unlocking great potential of any nation.
He urged the association to remain focused, not to relent or to fail, adding that every effort should be made to ensure that the association continued to play its role for the good of the students, the state and the nation.
Mr Onu donated 10 sets of laboratory kits, two sets of desktop computers, 10 sets of laptop computers and 12 text books written by the minister in different areas of study.