Prof. Okechukwu Ukwuoma, the Director-General, National Centre for Technology
Management (NACETEM) on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to establish an intervention fund to
boost research activities in the country.
Ukwuoma made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of ongoing Stakeholders’
Workshop on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Indicators organised by NACETEM.
The workshop, which would also serve as means to conduct the first audit of selected economic sectors in the
country is holding in Abuja.
According to him, many times research institutions depend on budgetary provisions for their operations,
which is usually not timely and adequate.
He said “if we have funds, it will facilitate and fast track our ability to capture data within a time frame and
at a scale.
“But if we continue to wait for budgetary provision from government, it is only when the money is released that
we can do something.
“If we have intervention from other sources, maybe private sector or other government agencies, our operations
will be continuous but if it comes intermittently, our operations will also be done intermittently.
“Usually, the level of funding determines the outcome of research, so studies have shown that if funding is not forthcoming,
it takes longer time for the outcome to be realised.
“But if you have large quantum of funding, it would fast track research and accelerate results.”
Ukwuoma, who explained the essence of the workshop, said that a country could develop technologically if it had data
to plan, hence the need to capture the STI indicators for the country.
He added that the auditing was to ascertain Nigeria’s position in her quest for development.
“It is when we have the manpower and the required expertise, the right technology in terms of
hardware and software, as well as the infrastructure within our operating environment that we will say we are good to go.”
Dr Michael Mba, the Head of Real Sector Statistics Office, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a participant
who spoke on the importance of data, said that the role of CBN economic management made
it that such attempt to produce credible data that would support economic policy was supported at all levels.
He said “insufficient data affects us enormously because CBN is a strong anchor when it comes to economic management
in Nigeria and without data, we cannot actually do that.
“When we don’t have data in any aspect of the economy, it limits the effectiveness of our policies, the monetary policy
which the CBN drives. So, CBN will appreciate the efforts of any government agency or any institution to enhance
data collection and bring it to the level that it will be used for national development and policy formulation,’’ Mba said.
He added that the efforts of NACETEM to bring together all stakeholders before going out to collect data to harness
thoughts from key players in the economy was commendable.
On intervention funds, Mba said that before any call for intervention, there should be enough evidence that already released
funds were not sufficient.
“If we do not have enough information to support that we are not spending enough on research,
we cannot have justification to push for any intervention. So, part of what this study will achieve is to establish
what is the quantum based on the budgetary provision from research institutes and universities up to the households.
“We will now be able to ascertain and say apart from budgetary provisions these are other spendings
by institutions and agencies in Nigeria on Research and Documentation (R&D).
“When we measure the data accurately or near the reality then we can have some justification to say that there is
need for intervention from any angle from the Federal Government, state governments or government agencies.”
He, therefor, called for more efforts to ensure that the workshop lived up to its billing of coming up with accurate
data that government could use in formulating, implementing and evaluating data.
The workshop had in attendance, key players in the economy in both the private and public sectors.