ABU Journal, Department Of Public Administration
Volume No: 3|
FORMULATING COHERENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICIES IN NIGERIA:IS THERE ANY POLITICAL WILL
DR. MASSOUD OMAR
&NBSP;DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT& DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, INSTITUTE OF ADMINISTRATION AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA.&NBSP;
This paper argues that there is no coherent national policy in Nigeria for scientific and technological development. Policies are at best ad-hoc and fragmented or non-existent, and this has been the case since the attainment of independence in 1960. Both civilian and military regimes which have ruled the country at different points in its history, are to blame for this trend. The first attempt at formulating a coherent national policy on science and technology research in Nigeria began in 1966 with the establishment of the National Council on Scientific and Industrial Research to advise government on science and technology policy. This Council did not even function because of the civil war from 1967 to 1970. The National Council on Scientific and Industrial Research was replaced by the Nigerian Council for Science and Technology (NCST) in 1969. This Council existed for six years, i.e. 1970-1976. Again a new agency, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) was established in 1977. This agency took over the functions of the NCST. However, this agency hardly had enough time to function before it was abolished in 1979. The functions of the NSTDA were taken over by the newly created Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in 1979.The ministry existed for four years i.e. 1979-1984 before it was merged with the Federal Ministry of Education to become the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in January 1984. It however re-emerged in 1985, retaining its former name of Ministry of Science and Technology. All these developments point to the ad-hoc nature and lack of a well-sustained policy thrust in the realm of the scientific research and development. The absence of a well-coordinated policy on science and technology according to this paper, is due to the lack of political will and underfunding. Unless the political leadership shows a commitment towards the development of scientific research which will lead to technological advancement, Nigeria cannot make the quantum leap needed to bridge the gap between it and the technologically advanced nations of the world.
The political leadership of the country has not shown a strong willingness or firm commitment to make available substantial financial resources for funding of research activities in science and technology. Strengthening the universities in terms of funding, remuneration and adequate laboratory equipment in order to raise the amount and level of research done by university scientists has not been of utmost priority for past and present governments. Laboratories are not well equipped, funds for research are not enough and researchers in the various institutes and centres are not well supported materially and financially. The creation of a Ministry of Science and Technology in 1979 and the way the Ministry has functioned since then shows either official disdain or lack of a firm conviction in the all embracing role that science and technological development can play in moving this country forward. This has resulted in the absence of a tradition of rational and systematic application of science and technology results for national development. This, on the other hand, means that there is no recognition of the role that science and technology research can play as a vehicle for the economic emancipation of the country. Consequently, Nigeria will remain underdeveloped until clear, well-articulated policies with the appropriate institutional structures are put in place to enable the country make the quantum leap needed to bridge the gap between it and the technologically advanced nations of the world.