Jonathan urges FG to invest more in science, technology

• NASENI empowers 100 Bayelsa youths on modern electrical skills

Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for directing the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to train 100 Bayelsa youths and also for making economic self-reliance a priority of his government, even as he said that Nigeria’s underdevelopment is tied to the absence of science and technology culture.

Jonathan said this yesterday as the special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the NASENI Skill Acquisition Training and Youth Empowerment Programme on modern methods of electrical installation and maintenance held at Otuoke, his hometown of Bayelsa.

According to him, without investment in agencies like NASENI and other research and technologies institutions, economic transformations for Nigeria would be difficult to attain.

The former President said that “science and technology is the secret of the ongoing fast developments and advancement in the economies of the developed world”

He urged the participants to use the starter packs and equipment given to them at the end of the five-day training to modernize their businesses and not to fall into the temptation of selling the starter packs, which were worth millions of naira, but to use them in pursuing economic development for self-reliance.

In her welcome address, the Overseeing Officer of NASENI Office of the Executive Vice Chairman, Mrs Nonyem Onyechi, said the workshop was the second of its kind in the South-South geopolitical zone and part of the series of directives from President Buhari to the agency aimed at building the capacity of young people so that they could create jobs and to move toward self-employment.

Onyechi used the occasion to express appreciation of the management of NASENI to the former President of the country, Goodluck Jonathan for his unwavering support for the Agency while in office leading to the return of NASENI from the Ministry’s bureaucracy.

She said, “The entire board and management of NASENI are eternally grateful to the Statesman, President Jonathan because his efforts on NASENI had enabled it to function optimally to deliver the expected good to Nigerians, bringing innovation and infusion of Science and Engineering to modernize Nigerian industries.”

Explaining further, she said the training was a fall-out of the new status and operation of the Agency because NASENI does not operate anymore within the Ministry’s bureaucracy.

“This training workshop and empowerment programme aimed at upgrading the skills of 100 Bayelsa youths in modern methods of electrical installations and maintenance is in line with new trends in the world as we move towards the fourth Industrial revolution, and developments in frontiers of cutting-edge technology shaping the work life.”

She stated that these technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the internet of things, big data, blockchains, additive manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, gene editing, 5G networks, as well as smart grids and calls for wireless power in every sector of human endeavour, including agriculture, health care, industry, transportation, and hospitality requiring electricity.

Giving reasons for the need for the training, the NASENI boss averred that the skills required for electrical installations, repairs and maintenance are no longer limited to meter conduiting, piping, or trunking of cable channel and streaming overhead conductors alone, but had extended beyond the supply of illumination and plug outlets. Practitioners’ expertise must be updated regularly to remain relevant and to generate jobs for themselves and others.

Chairman of the occasion who is the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Management Board (NCDMB), Simbi Kesiye Wabote, commended NASENI for reviving the critical attention needed for the development of vocational and skills upgrade of the Bayelsa youths geared toward self-reliance and employment generation. In the South-South alone he said, over 2000 vocational centres exist and yet many of them were either moribund or abandoned. He said the NASENI interventions in this regard was most needed and therefore quite commendable.

According to him “white collar jobs are no longer available, but skills development and training and retraining are solutions to removing the youths from the streets and giving them hopes of self-reliance.

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