BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of Agricultural Equipment and Machinery Development Institute in Cross River State.
The institute is for the South-South geo-political zone.
The approval followed an earlier request by the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade to the President for the siting of the institute in the state.
The letter granting the approval was presented, Monday, to the governor at his conference room in Calabar, by the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Professor M.S Haruna.
Presenting the letter, Haruna told Ayade that “We are here to officially communicate to you that President Muhammadu Buhari has granted your request and approved the zonal Agricultural Equipment and Machinery Development Institute to be sited in Cross River State.”
Haruna said the choice of the state followed a rigorous evaluation of states in the South South zone, along with other parameters, adding, “the products of your achievements stood tall, hence the decision to site that zonal office here in Calabar.”
According to the NASENI CEO, “President Buhari approved six of these institutes for each of the geopolitical zones and I am happy to announce to you that, that of the south south is to be located in Cross River.”
In order to ensure food security and sufficiency in Nigeria, Haruna noted that there was need to embrace research and technology, adding that “the effort and achievements of Governor Ben Ayade have continued to resonate all over the country and this was what informed President Buhari’s choice of Cross River as the South South zonal office.”
In his response, Governor Ayade, while calling on Cross Riverians to thank President Buhari for considering Cross River as the appropriate choice to bed the Institute, said: “NASENI is the way for us to go, because as a nation, there is no way you can progress without a good research in science and engineering. There is no way, even if we are copying technology, the way China started which is reverse engineering where you import something, deconstruct it and now fabricate yours and even that process requires the backing of science and engineering research.”
While decrying over dependence on foreign technology, the governor lamented that “as far as a nation depends on another for agricultural equipments, for ammunition, for food, for drugs, then you are a slavish nation, you are a subhuman nation and that is what is seen in Nigeria today and that is the narrative Professor Haruna is trying to change.”
Ayade particularly thanked the President for the choice of Professor Haruna as head of NASENI, as according to him, “Haruna has distinguished himself internationally and brought back that experience to add value to our science and research. I want to congratulate you.
“For us, there is no institute in Nigeria that is bigger than the one you are about to site here. The institute will focus on the manufacturing of the equipment for agricultural purpose and beyond that, whatever is the object clause of NASENI can be done from this institute. I want to thank you so much.”
Governor Ayade directed the state commissioner for lands to immediately make land available for the institute while also announcing the provision of a temporary office accommodation and vehicle to NASENI to fast track the establishment of the institute.