Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
It is indeed my pleasure to be one of the invitees at this great occasion. May I seize this opportunity to commend the organizers for the theme of this year “Science, Technology and Innovation in the 21st Century: Young People as Major Participants”. This annual event is an initiative of Global Science Development Initiatives (a non-governmental organization championing a cause in science popularization and education). The topic is not only relevant but timely, as it affects the youth who are the potential future leaders of this great country.
In every society, the role of the youths in ensuring meaningful and progressive development cannot be refuted. Being full of vigour and inquisitive by nature, they have the inherent capability to effect positive change within and around their immediate environment, as long as they have been adequately equipped with relevant knowledge, experience and mindset. The youths, being young at heart, can easily be influenced by what they hear and see. Thus, the use of the phrase “Catch Them Young” is relevant here. It is therefore most pertinent that the subject matter be taught to the youths thoroughly. It is good to note that the theme and its objectives are all-encompassing because it captures all the domains of education, which are Affective, the Cognitive and the psychomotor domains, essentially to impart on the youths an all-round and balanced education. The resultant effect is that they become aware of the need to: produce, transmit, market and conserve it effectively while being advocates of same innovations and inventions respectively.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may I intimate you with the statement of commitment by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCON, GCFR, demonstrating his administration’s priority in transforming the Nigerian state using science and technology(S&T): “We are going to run our economy based on science and technology because no where in this world, you can move your economy without science and technology. For the next four years, we will emphasize so much on S&T because we have no choice, without that we are just dreaming”.
The importance of science and technology in our contemporary society cannot be overemphasized. The 21st century inventions and innovations such as energy efficiency and conservation, waste management, genetics and cloning, weather prediction and control, information, communication and technology advancement and sustainable development to mention a few. It is against this backdrop that the society needs three things for advancement as follow: firstly is security, the tendency to defend itself against internal and external threats to the individuals and to the entire society so that people are free to pursue their civic responsibilities. Secondly is the economy, the tendency to produce goods for consumption, provide adequate services and improve the overall quality of life for its citizens. Thirdly is education to prepare its citizens, so that one can benefit from what is already known as a basis to even contribute essentially to the world’s body of knowledge. This can be possible by promoting broad-based curricular comprising relevant scientific knowledge and vocational skills for schools and colleges.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) is the fastest way of increasing qualitative access to electricity supply in an environmentally benign manner. Improving EE&C in our homes, businesses, schools, government offices and industries, is one of the most constructive and cost-effective ways to address the challenges of high energy prices, energy security, air pollution and global climate change that is eventually threatening. Using energy more efficiently is essentially the best way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) established by the Energy Commission act No. 62 of 1979 and amended by act No. 19 of 1989 is mandated to strategically plan and coordinate national policies in the field of energy in all its ramifications. By this mandate, the commission amongst other functions promotes training and man-power development in the aspect of several renewable and non-renewable energy related advocacy activities nationwide. It is in this regard that ECN had begun a process of creating awareness amongst students of secondary schools in FCT. We intend to establish energy clubs and to lay foundation for the building up of a generation of youths that would be in tune with mainstreaming energy in all the sectors of the economy.
In the same vein, other notable achievements of the ECN cum its centres include the development of renewable energy devices by the centres at the Universities of Nigeria, Nsukka and Sokoto, are solar cookers, solar dryers, solar water heaters, solar stills, solar PVC applications, biogas digesters and efficient wood stoves which are ready for mass production and commercialization. Since 1999, the ECN and NYSC have continued hitherto with the programmes of training the youth corps members within the six geopolitical zones in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of simple energy technologies.
Finally, in consideration of the importance of science, technology and innovation towards the achievement of the transformation agenda of the present administration, Nigeria government has expended a great deal of effort in the formation and development of a national S&T policy. It specifically gave prominence to flagship programmes of government in the areas of Biotechnology, Information and Technology, Energy and Engineering Materials. In this 21st century, the dividends of democracy cannot be realized without putting Science and Technology in the centre of socio-economic and environmental development effort. I hereby want to call on all participants particularly the teeming youths that are privileged to be here today to make every effort to avail themselves to this very important programme “Abuja Science, Technology and Innovation Promotion Confab for Young and Aspiring Scientists 2013”.
I indeed thank you for your kind attention.
Professor Eli Jidere Bala
DG/CEO, Energy Commission of Nigeria
6th November, 2013.