BY KHALIFA ADAMU
What do the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Defense Advanced Projects Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all have in common? They all defined this generation.
United States Defense Advanced Projects Agency started looking into ways of linking computers in 1973, later in collaboration with the National Science Foundation during the 1980s; the network that was developed is known today as THE INTERNET.
The NSF, NASA and the CIA collaborated to develop the touch screen technology which many today cannot do without. The United States Military developed the global positioning system GPS, NASA baby formula. Other things developed by government agencies in the US include life saving vaccines, MRI and the laser. The modern world cannot function today without all the benefits it has gotten from government funded research.
This brings us to the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI. While Nigerians are always obsessed with NNPC, NPA, NIMASA etc, it is NASENI that will define this country for the next fifty years. In the last fifteen years NAFDAC and NCC have created more jobs that nearly all the other federal agencies combined and yet NASENI has the potential to do far more. Under the leadership of Prof Mohammed Sani Haruna, NASENI has taken to its core mandate like a fish to water and created several solutions to problems currently facing Nigeria. In the few years that Prof Haruna has held sway at the agency; he has faced his task with a sense of purpose, clarity of vision and preternatural determination to work for his fatherland. The true genius of Prof Haruna and his team is how they have dedicated themselves to solving basic problems that affect the ordinary Nigerian; shelter, food, water, transportation and health.
To put his work in context, there are over 3 million motorcycles and tricycles in Nigeria. All of which are 100% imported (including the fuel in them). These vehicles are made up of zero (0) Nigerian materials/content. And with each averaging N200,000.00 to purchase, the true cost of these vehicles traumatizes the mind. We have essentially exported over N600 billion to buy motorcycles and tricycles and yet NASENI has developed same with 65% local content. With the solar panels that NASENI has developed, the panels and locally developed bulbs can be used to light up the rural areas.
The NASENI small hydropower turbines can be used for irrigation of farms and electricification of small towns and villages. NASENI brick molding machines can be used to build truly low cost houses for Nigerians NASENI solar voting machine can ensure free and fair elections, NASENI solar dryer can reduce the losses to agricultural products by 80%. The NASENI seed oil extractors guarantee that farmers can extract oil from seeds and reduce losses due to poor storage. NASENI drones can be used to dispense herbicides and pesticides on farms and even used to monitor border security. I can go on and on. The NASENI mobile cassava grater cuts cost for the farmer by allowing him or her to process the cassava tubes after harvesting, the advantage to the farmer is huge. The farmer saves cost on transportation and then uses the cassava peels and leaves as organic fertilizer to replenish the soil.
No true industrialization can be achieved without Nigeria developing its research agencies and giving them the necessary backing to bring such research to its full potential. A country that depends entirely on other countries for even its nuts and bolts cannot say it is secure. The Federal Government should as a matter of national security direct the Bank of Industry to invest 60% of its capital into developing NASENI research products and also mandate companies seeking loans to buy these locally developed machines. Alternatively, an FG backed bond can be floated and the proceeds used to commercialize NASENI research, the bond will then be paid off using the money realized.
All the developed countries ensure that their agencies use only locally developed technologies and only use others if there is no good local alternative. The only way to honour the work and sacrifice of Prof Haruna and the people of NASENI will be to let their research fulfill their purpose.
For his strides, Prof Haruna is our Nigerian of the month. At a time where snakes are swallowing monies, we celebrate his commitment, focus and determination to leave Nigeria better than he met it. With over 500 MDAs in Nigeria, NASENI stands on top with its ability to make the 21st century, “THE NIGERIAN century”, let the Nigerian eagle soar.