According to him, the decision was part of the efforts of the government to enhance the country’s economic growth and development.
Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), stated this on Monday while declaring open the 2021 Technology and Innovation Expo with the theme: “Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainability Amidst COVID – 19 challenges”.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President (Media and Publicity), Laolu Akande, said the President also spoke about the efforts of his regime in the past few years especially in budgetary allocation to the sector.
The President said the measures adopted over the years have helped to increase research and innovation with the aim of achieving sustainable development.
He said, “We are happy that this has been achieved in line with the decision taken by the African Union’s Executive Council in 2006 to establish a target for all member States of 1 per cent of GDP investment in Research and Development in order to improve innovation, productivity, and economic growth.
“We are aware that only a few African countries have met this target, but as a result of the challenges of this critical sector of the economy, we will allocate a minimum of 0.5 per cent of our GDP to research and innovation as a way to fast track meaningful development.”
While commending the heroic contribution of Nigerian researchers and scientists in the wake of the COVID – 19 pandemic, Buhari said “the COVID – 19 pandemic has asked tough questions of our national capabilities in the area of research and innovation. I am gratified to report that we are competently answering these questions through the commendable efforts of our researchers and scientists.”
Recalling how the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria, the President stated shortly after the patient was identified, a sample of the virus was sent to the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, at Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State.
He said, “There, a team led by Prof. Christian Happi, analysed the sample and was able within 48 hours to share the very first genome sequence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from Africa with the global science community.
“This finding was shared faster than what was being done in some developed countries. More importantly, it was also much faster than sending it to a laboratory overseas. That last bit is very important as it is ground-breaking.”
Stressing the significance of the scientific breakthroughs, President Buhari said, “not so long ago (before then), test samples had to be flown out of the country for examination. This is no longer the case because thanks to the efforts of our medical scientists and agencies like the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control we now have the capacity to process samples internally. Last December, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research launched a new set of COVID – 19 test kits that can produce results in 57 minutes. The new kit was designed by Joseph Shaibu, a molecular virologist at NIMR.
“These are a few examples of how Nigerian researchers, scientists and technologists are answering the demand of the present moment and providing solutions to our problems.
“As a government, we are committed to providing an enabling environment for the Science and Technology Sector in order to unlock the enormous potential for innovation, wealth creation and economic growth.”