Barely four weeks after Nigeria’s former Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, declared that Nigeria’s numerous research institutes are contributing nothing to the country’s industrial and national development, the Nigeria Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has clarified that it has been addressing raw material needs of the Nigerian manufacturing sector equipment that are fabricated by Nigerian engineers
Aganga made this declaration on October 19 when he delivered the 3rd Adeola Odutola Lecture/ Presidential Luncheon with the theme “Setting the Agenda for Competitive Manufacturing Under the AfCFTA: What Nigeria Needs to Do.”
He said: “Nigeria has numerous research institutes across various fields, including agriculture, healthcare, technology, and more. However, these institutes which are funded by taxpayers’ money have had little or no impact on national development, and in particular on our industrial development.”
But the Director General of RMRDC, Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, has refuted this allegation and revealed in a recent joint press conference with the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Francis Meshioye, that the RMRDC has been helping automobile manufacturers and other manufacturing firms to develop parts that are replacing imported components in the country.
Ibrahim, who was represented at the press conference by the Director, Business and Innovation Centre of RMRDC, Mr. John Obekpa, said: “We have been able to develop indigenous brake pad using palm kernel shells. This has been tasted and it is working. And it is gradually replacing demand for foreign brake pads. We are on the board of this automobile manufacturing organisation and most of the times give advices that will allow local content in the automobile sector.”
He therefore, appealed to the general public to realise that research and development (R&D) is a painstaking endavour that one will not rush into the arena and start making noise.
He said: “If you rush to town with stories that have not been verified and have not been tested over time for reliability you could get hurt. We need to be very careful since most of our findings are not in the public domain even though our stakeholders are aware of them.
“It is not true that RMRDC is not doing enough. We are doing a lot. But people need to realise that our stakeholders are very specialised ones like manufactures and people across the value chain
“It is not true to say that the RMRDC is not doing enough. We are. We do more to engage with manufacturers and one of such engagements is the upcoming event that we are promoting today.”
The upcoming event is the 8th edition of the Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Expo (NME) and the 9th edition of the Nigerian Raw Materials Expo (NIRAM), which are organised jointly by the MAN and RMRDC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Meshioye explained that the theme for this year’s NME is “Future Manufacturing: A Roadmap to an Enabling Environment with Sustainable Industrialisation.”
He said: “This event serves as a pivotal platform for embracing technology to produce our own goods, support sustainable development, and ensure we are not reliant on developed nations.
“We must also remain committed to utilising locally sourced raw materials and leveraging essential support services, including financing and logistics, to drive our manufacturing endeavours and propel us into a prosperous and sustainable future.
“It is crucial to emphasise to large, medium, and small manufacturing organisations the immense opportunity presented by this year’s expo to explore novel production processes that enhance output, reduce expenses, elevate product quality, and diversify into new product lines.
“Concurrently, the RMRDC will offer master classes featuring the latest research findings delivered by carefully selected experts. Another significant event is the Women in Manufacturing session, affording accomplished women in the field the opportunity to share their experiences with aspiring female manufacturers who may be considering entry into the sector.”
According to the Director General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the event would, “be a meeting ground for equipment manufacturers to be able to showcase their technologies to our members and for us to engage them to see how we can retool and improve our businesses. We are looking for ways to improve our processes and do all that we can to improve our competiveness.”