By Lawrence Audu
Countries which often berate Nigeria’s slow progress in science and technology are pained by the nation’s failure to consummate its abundant material and human resources potentials in modern technology. Technological advancement is not just bedrock for speedy development, but it confirms the maturity of a country in the comity of nations.
Nigeria has the intellectual wherewithal and energy to domestic science and technology. Unfortunately though, the country quivered on its path of science and technology for decades. The nation sighted the certitude offered by technology, but the will-power to convert these opportunities into something tangible has been a major challenge.
Unfocused leadership, government’s policy somersault’s, poor funding and unenthusiastic expert commitment have almost become insurmountable hurdles. But in the long run, a visionary and competent scientist emerged on the scene to illuminate the path.
Before now, Nigeria prepared the grounds, but had no committed leadership. The birth of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), in 1992, an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology was essentially to tackle Nigeria’s daunting challenges in the harnessing of science and technology initiatives.
Now under the leadership of Professor Mohammed Sani Haruna, who is the Executive Vice Chairman, NASENI suffered years of neglect, under-utilization and biting official stifling. It remained in this sordid and obscure state until Professor Haruna accepted the challenge of turning around the misfortunes of this gigantic and lucrative agency, which has been abandoned to a fate of decay.
From 2012 when Haruna supervised the agency in Acting capacity and his eventual confirmation as Executive Vice chairman in 2013, NASENI in the last four years has progressed in leaps and bounds. It has proved its worth not in fables, by concrete and verifiable technological inventions and products.
Prof. Haruna has proven that through NASENI, Nigeria has the competence and intellectual endowments to change its negative narrative on the science and technology map of the world to something that can assail Africa and the globe in bewilderment. The performance index of the various departments and institutes under NASENI shows an inspiring performance for its interventions in national development in multiple sectors.
Specifically, NASENI has created impact in capacity and human resources development in some Nigerian universities. It is sponsoring and building human and intellectual resources assets in areas of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, Nano-technology, and Advanced Materials Development of Virtual Manufacturing Laboratory.
In active collaboration with relevant organisations and institutions, NASENI’s initiatives are providing state of the art hardware, software and intellectual capacity for design, engineering simulation, and computer modeling of engineering processes, plants, machinery, and spares;
Furthermore, a peep into the world of technology anchored by NASENI unearths fascinating innovations and inventions in very critical aspects of the Nigerian economy. In the transport sector for instance, its enticing to know Nigeria has practically demonstrated her capacity in technology by developing its first indigenous passenger vehicles and cargo tricycles for low income earners and rural dwellers.
The cargo tricycles are crucial and indispensable in haulage of agricultural produce from rural to urban centers. Added to it, NASENI under Haruna moved a notch further by developing Nigeria’s first motorcycle using 65 percent local content in consonance with Presidential Executive Order on local content utilization in the country.
Inadequate power generation has been a major setback to industrialization and a lingering problem in Nigeria. NASENI has ameliorated the situation by inventing different models of Small Hydro Power Turbines (SHP) as a renewable energy source. The pilot samples are tested and functional. They either are connected to the main grid or independently serve as a stand-alone/off-grid mode, which are already installed in some communities in the country, like the Mada River.
Similarly, in the water sector, Prof. Haraun’s leadership has been able to propel NASENI to develop durable and efficient deep-well hand pumps model 3 and 4 for water solution as well as reversed engineering drilling rig heads for National Water Research Institute (NWRI), Kaduna. The agency is in alliance with Rock Buster Texas to build water drilling rigs in Nigeria.
Thoughts of diversifying the Nigerian economy as enunciated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration are hinged mainly on harnessing to the fullest, the agricultural endowments of the country. NASENI under Haruna has also invaded this sector significantly. It has designed and developed various crop threshers and harvesters for farmers.
The agency is also credited with the production of a table-top seed oil mill for extracting oil from seeds, including groundnut, cashew, palm kernel. And deep-water well pumps and centrifugal pumps have been produced for irrigation purposes to encourage dry season farming.
Nigerians can also now enjoy functional mobile cassava graters, rotary dryer and cassava chipping machine for Garri processing. And fish farmers in the country now savour the ease and pleasure of solar dryers and mobile fish smokers among several other focal interventions.
But the master of them all is NASENI’s designed, produced and tested multi-purpose Agricultural-Based Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (AB – UAV), to enhance agricultural engagements by easing the dispensing of herbicides or pesticides in farmlands among other utility values.
The development of an improved electronic voting (e-voting) machine by the Electronic Development Institute, Awka, an institute under the jurisdiction of NASENI is a breathtaking solution to the electoral frauds in Nigeria. The NASENI e-voting machine has better features than the imported ones used in the conduct of the 2015 general elections.
It uses solar energy, captures thumbprint, captures pictures at point of voting and transmits results within seconds to the central data base. The reality of the NSENI improvised e-voting machine has a greater proficiency in eliminating election rigging and delivering credible polls.
Indubitably, the leadership of NASENI by Prof. Haruna has posted puzzling and excellent results, a record that mocks the success tales of his predecessors in the agency. Under his guidance, the contributions’ of the agency to national development has exposed the hidden treasures’ of Nigeria in science and technology.
There is therefore need to consolidate on these gains. So, Nigerians are pleading that as his initial term of five years draws to an end, there is need for President Buhari to renew his tenure in order to erect a template in sustaining these legacies.
With another five years of NASENI, with Prof, Haruna on the leadership seat, Nigeria would have sufficiently prepared the grounds to invade the world in international trade fairs with her indigenously invented technologies and proudly Nigerian products in diverse areas of human needs. The committed and result-oriented leadership of NASENI by Prof. Haruna is a rare opportunity and blessing Nigeria would hate to squander.