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Science and Technology Policy: “One of the public policies that promote appropriate funding to advance scientific and technological research and education, studies the impact of science and technology upon its citizenry, and prescribes regulation, if necessary.” — Library of Congress' Science, Technology & Business Division

Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, an engineer by profession, a politician, an author and the current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation said in a conference — the validation workshop on the Draft Revised 2022 National Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy, held in Abuja on Thursday 27th January 2022 that Nigeria’s economy has been diversified due to policies of the Federal Government. Additionally, he said there’re ongoing attempts to deepen the diversification.

The minister revealed at the workshop that the Federal Government has sanctioned five additional policies to help gear the nation's economy from being commodity-dependent that is, from the nation's traditional basic goods to an innovation-driven economy — developing new interpretations for products and services or understanding "why" a product is used. Taking a subjective approach rather than objective.

“I am happy that the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) now has additional five policies approved by the Federal Executive Council. These additional policies include the Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (2017-2030); the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria; the Presidential Executive Order No. 5; the Leather and Leather Products Policy; the Methanol Fuel Production Technology Policy.

Read also: Nigeria’s Economy Under Buhari Worse than 10 Years Ago: World Bank

"All these policies have helped the nation to move our economy from depending entirely on commodities to depend on knowledge, that is innovation-driven. Our professionals, contractors and manufacturers are given preference in procurement by the Federal Government. Gradually many Nigerians are now buying made in Nigeria products. Our economy is now diversified and we are all working hard to deepen the diversification. Nigeria is changing in a positive way. Good things are happening in Nigeria". Dr Onu stated.

Note that this is an STI policy draft review. Dr Ogbonnaya during the workshop said the validation workshop on the draft comprising of its best intellectuals would severely aid in examining the document, and also prepare a Final Revised 2022 NSTI Policy that will be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council for its thoughtfulness and favourable reception.

“The journey to revise the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy started in 2019. A number of committees were set up, including an Inter-Ministerial Committee. We thank the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for their contribution. We also had a Task Team, comprising of some of our best intellectuals taken from our leading Academies to look at the document." Dr Onu stated explicitly.

A recent released (January 2022) flagship report for 2022 by the World Bank, titled "Global Economic Prospects" (GEP) noted that Nigeria's economy under the Muhammadu Buhari led administration is worse than 10 years ago.

Flagship reports are reports published by the World Bank (and other such bodies) to share information about the work of the organization with the public.

It is a well-known fact that the pandemic has a huge negative impact on the world economy, but the report stated that the per capita income in some Sub-Saharan African countries is forecast to be lower in 2022 than a decade ago.

"The pandemic has reversed at least a decade of gains in per capita income in some countries — in almost a third of the region's economies, including Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, per capita incomes, are forecast to be lower in 2022 than a decade ago."

the report stated.

Per capita income is a measure of the amount of money earned per person in a nation or geographic region.

Cost of Commodities

Furthermore, the report also submitted that high costs of commodities could inflate the damaging impact of increased poverty on economic growth in these countries.

In the year 2021, the report stated that nearly 110 million people in Sub-Saharan African countries were in situations characterized by food crises or worse.

It is suggested, according to the report, that food prices could soar due to supply chain disruptions, extreme weather events, or armed conflicts, leaving vulnerable groups suffering the most. If this continues, it would clinch household' purchasing power and wear away consumer confidence, causing more harm to economic growth and increasing poverty.

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"Higher food prices could amplify the negative impact of increased poverty on economic growth. Last year, nearly 110 million people in SSA were in situations characterized by food crisis or worse — 40 million more than at the start of the pandemic, with over 60 per cent of these in just four FCS countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan...). Supply disruptions, extreme weather events, or armed conflicts could trigger surges in food prices, with vulnerable groups suffering the most... A further rise in food prices would squeeze households' purchasing power and erode consumer confidence, causing more subdued growth and hindering poverty reduction." the report stressed.

Living under $1.90

A study published by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in contract with the West Africa Sub-Regional Office for the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) stated that the vast magnitude of people living on less than $1.90 a day increased from 2.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent in 2021, and the heavy debt weight of countries (for example, Nigeria and Ghana) increased amidst slow economic recuperation, shrinking fiscal space and weak resource mobilisation.

Nigeria's Fiscal Policies Criticised

A World Bank's November edition of its Nigeria Development Update tagged "Time for Business Unusual" noted that poor choices of Nigeria's Central Bank exchange rate management policies discourage investments and fuel inflation.

However, according to the flagship report, the World Bank anticipates that Nigeria's economy will grow by 2.5 per cent in 2022, as it will profit from an increase in oil prices, a gradual alleviation of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cuts, and other domestic regulatory reforms such as property registration, construction permits, entrepreneurship of small and midsized firms and many others.

Many Nigerians want to live abroad.

They fantasize about it. They have heard stories from their friends, family members, and associates about how beautiful and sane it is to live abroad.

Many believe that those living abroad pick money from the streets. You can’t blame them because that is the impression given to them by some people living abroad by their actions and words. But it is not true.

The devil is in the details. The pain is hidden in the pleasure. Don’t be deceived!

I have the privilege of having a leg each in both worlds and I know from experience that for most Nigerians living abroad, it is a constant struggle to make ends meet and keep their heads above waters.

Many are heavily indebted and can’t do anything beyond paying bills with their incomes.

Yes, they have a better environment to live in (depending on where they live); better security, more efficient service delivery, better public schools and others; but they work harder, pay higher taxes, and are confronted with rapid and unforgiving bills that keep pilling up.

They earn more money but their costs of living is higher, too.

Many Nigerians living abroad do more than one job to be able to pay their bills. Even in families with double income-husband and wives working, it is still a challenge to keep up with the bills.

The work environment is not the same. They work per hour and are paid per hour. Back in Nigeria, workers are paid for showing up, and in some cases for not showing up. Once the name is on the workers’ register, he or she is paid at the end of the month.

That cannot happen abroad, you have to put in the hours and earn the money.

A friend relocated to the United States recently. She got a factory job that required her to stand on her feet for hours. After standing for two hours straight, she collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital. She told me ”I never knew it is this difficult to work here, I almost died in the first few weeks here”.

My friend today understand what it means to live abroad. If you earn 75% in Nigeria of what people living in Europe or America are earning, you are likely to live better than them, exchanging rate notwithstanding. The cost of living is not stagnant abroad, neither is the earnings constantly increasing.

In September while I was in the US I bought a bottle of coke for $1.89 plus tax, in Lagos, Nigeria, I bought the same coke for N120. The coke in America at the current exchange rate is almost N1000. They also pay more for fuel, gas, electricity, and others. Very few Nigerians doing back-breaking jobs and playing by the rules are living above water level.

Many are involved in the crimes-credit card, insurance, and romance frauds, as well as Business Email Compromise. The cases of Obinwanne Okeke (Invictus) and Abidemi Rufai, are still fresh in our minds; not to talk of Hushpuppi and his gang!

This week, the FBI indicted another 9 Nigerians for a series of frauds ranging from business email compromise to romance fraud and unemployment insurance fraud.

These are the type of people that come back home to show off and create the impression that living abroad is simple, easy, and trouble-free.

Don’t get me wrong, we have many Nigerians living abroad and doing extremely well. We have doctors, pharmacists, engineers, nurses, software/tech guys that are earning unbelievable salaries and allowances; but they are decent people who will not even show off. They own big houses, drive expensive vehicles, and have kids in Ivy League schools where they are paying hundreds of thousands as school fees.

I have a brother who has been working for over 10 years as a nurse on a permanent night shift. He has no social life. He comes in 10-11 am daily, grabs sleep for a few hours, and heads back to work in the evening for another day at work. He is looking older than his age. I have been teasing him about his old looks and urging him to quit and come home to a new routine.

When politicians want to deceive us, they quote data and statistics from abroad. They tell you about the changes in GDP, Per Capital Income, Happiness indices and others; but they will never tell you about their roles in stagnating our growth. They will not tell you about the sacrifices made and being made by their counterparts in other parts of the world. They won’t open up about how they stole money from Nigeria and stashed them abroad, aiding the growth and expansion of those countries.

In the same way, criminals don’t tell you about what they do to make the money they come home to splash on luxuries and over-the-top lifestyles that has captivated many of our young people. Before he was arrested, Abbas Ramon, Hushpuppi, was the role model (may still be) to many young people. They don’t see anything wrong with his fraudulent activities. A group of young people told me that Hushpuppi was simply ”repatriating wealth” stolen by white people from Nigeria and Africa.

Living abroad is great if you have the way and means to live there, but don’t mislead people about the true state of things. Don’t lie to them about the difficult conditions and don’t give them false hopes about prospects and opportunities. Be real. Many people believe that relocating abroad is the only solution to the economic and political situations in Nigeria. It is not. Countries have their unique challenges and problems.

Running from yours to another may give you relief from the problems and challenges in your country but does not immune you from those in the country you are running to. The country you are running to was built by their citizens who endured pains and overcame hardship.

What happened if they left their countries and ran to others when they had problems and challenges? Living abroad is not the Eldorado they told you. If you can succeed abroad, you can succeed in Nigeria. Change your mindset, Nigeria is a great country loading.

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