In the history of humanity, no nation has ever developed without science and technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of science and technology, has said.
He spoke during a working visit to the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) in Lagos.
Onu said because the Federal Government recognised that science, technology and innovation are vital to nation building, it would continue to pump money into agencies that can help the country to improve the quality of life, solve health problems and improve on health service delivery.
By doing this, Onu said the country would solve problems of unemployment and poverty in the country. He lamented that many products imported into the country could be produced locally, adding that a reversal of this trend would provide jobs, empower people and boost the economy at the household and national levels.
During the visit, the minister launched the NNMDA’s five-year strategic plan, which is a roadmap on how the agency could help the nation produce herbal products for local consumption as well as export. He also inaugurated other projects, including a multi-purpose hall, which the agency said will be useful for in-house training besides being a source of internal revenue generation. An elated minister said he was happy that the NNMDA had moved from a zero-budget agency in 2015 to an agency that is inaugurating projects.
“Even from the work you have done and products you have already developed that are before NAFDAC, and once you get the certification, then we will prepare for the commercialisation of those products. We believe that this can help us build new startups in the country. This agency has a lot to contribute to the wellbeing of our nation. Your role is so critical because you have to do research, identify those very important ingredients that can now be used to formulate drugs that can be used to find solutions to many of the illnesses both here in Nigeria and other part of the world that have remain incurable.,” Onu said.
He added that he is particularly interested in how the agency can help transform the country through research and innovation so that poverty and unemployment crisis can be tackled. “We need to find jobs for our people, create employment opportunity for our people. We need to create wealth for the nation. We want to make sure many of the things we import into the country are produced in Nigeria. If we achieve that, it will help us provide job opportunities. So, when people graduate from school – whether secondary, polytechnic or university – they will have jobs. And it will help us fight poverty.
“A family, father and mother can start some of these things that we’ve seen here and that is how they’ll be making money and contributing to the growth of the nation. We believe that this can help us build new startups in the country. We can now have small and medium enterprises, even micro; families can start producing some of these herbal products and this is one way to make sure that, not only would we find jobs for our people, but we will fight and defeat extreme poverty and eliminate epidemics,” he said.
Speaking after inauguration, Dr. Sam Etatuvie, director-general, NNMDA, said six of the agency’s products were at the final stage of NAFDAC’s product listing, which he said, is a critical step towards commercialisation of the products; while the intellectual property and technology transfer office (IPTTO) is fully linked with global research organisations in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, India, China, among other countries.
“We do training for the practitioners across the country because they are the original owners of the traditional medicine knowledge. They’ve been passing down this knowledge from generation to generation and many of them are dying. We need to train the younger ones and those people to document their traditional medicine knowledge. If you do that, you’ll be able to use that to formulate products,” he said.