The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said that effective utilization of science, technology and innovation are key to tackling the nation’s unemployment and poverty challenges.

The minister, who made this remark during a press briefing on the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 in Lagos, restated the present administration’s commitment to the use of science, technology and innovation and involvement of the youth, professionals, indigenous contractors and consultants in the drive towards making Nigeria a truly great nation.

According to him, one of the ways to fast-track the nation’s journey to greatness is by implementing the Executive Order No. 5 for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts, science, engineering and technology.

He explained: “From now on, Nigeria will be able to add value by using science, technology and innovation to convert her huge and abundant resources to products and services needed at home, thereby creating more wealth, more jobs and reduce poverty.

“So long as science, technology and innovation are effectively deployed in nation building, the future of Nigeria is very bright. The Executive Order No. 5 is meant to promote patriotism, love of country and economic nationalism as potent tools for a new social engineering of our dear country.

“The Buhari administration expects that in the next 10 to 20 years, Nigerian companies and firms will be competing with the very best in other parts of the world for projects and contracts in international tenders”, the minister added.

He pointed out that the Executive Order required procuring entities to give preference to indigenous firms when awarding contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The minister noted that based on this requirement Nigerian companies and indigenous firms have the opportunity more than ever before to participate in national development through the award of contracts and to serve as consultants.

Onu stressed that the age of a firm would not be important criterion to qualify for public project contracts, so long as it is legally registered and possesses requisite qualifications, competence and experience in the management and execution of such contracts.

He clarified further: “The Federal Government will henceforth place premium on the use of indigenous professionals and firms in the design and execution of projects involving national security. Foreign experts will only be engaged on condition that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.

“Even when they are engaged, Nigerian professionals will be attached to understudy them. Also all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are to take steps to encourage indigenous professionals in the Diaspora to return home and use their expertise to develop Nigeria”, the minister canvassed.