Methanol policy is key to ending gas flaring, says FG

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The Federal Government has said its methanol policy is very key to ending gas flaring and that it is ready for its actualisation.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) Dr Ogbonaya Onu disclosed this on Friday in his address at the ministerial World Press Conference on the name change from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) to the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

He said the ministry has been working strategically to be able to domesticate the technology behind the methanol policy before its actualisation so that it does not go the way of crude oil that was found and is being dominated by foreigners.

Onu said: “The methanol economy is a major economy for Nigeria and Nigeria will be the first country in Africa to do so. It has very important benefits to all aspects of the economy. First is the environment.

“We are so lucky our gas resources from Nigeria is even more than the crude oil resources that we have and we flair this gas and I tell people it is like you take money from your pocket and you pour kerosene and you light and burn that money. That is what gas flaring is.

“Other countries that have a lot of crude oil, they don’t burn their gas, they use their gas, and this natural gas is what is used for the production of methanol, Methanol has application in over 1000 products.

“Even the clothes we wear, our houses, offices, laboratory. Even in most things around us, some components are drawn from methanol.

“So it is a very huge economy but that we don’t just want to bring this thing and it will be foreigners and in 20 to 30 to 60 years it will still foreigners.

“No, we want to bring this methanol economy into Nigeria and then domesticate the technology so that we can master it.

“Then we will now export our engineers and scientists to do the same for other people as they have been doing to us and make money for themselves and the nation.

“That is what we are trying to achieve and we are working very hard to do that.”

The minister added: “If you look at our methanol policy is one that if we introduce it by God’s grace and we are very close to realising it because it has been approved and we are at the terminal stages now but we don’t want to bring in Methanol and suffer the fate that we suffered from crude oil.

“With crude oil, we just said we have it and we did not care about the domestication of the Technology. If we had domesticated the technology by today we would not be asking foreigners to come and do turnaround maintenance of our refineries, we would not have been asking foreigners to come and design and construct new refineries in the country.

“By now, Nigerian companies would have been able to do that and then go and compete with the best in the world, whether in China, United States of America, Japan, Germany or in the UK.

“Our people would compete favourably and that way they would bring money back to Nigeria. This is what we are trying to achieve.”

On the Leather policy, Onu said it is the first of its kind in the history of the country.

“If you read the history books, you read about the Morrocan leather, we are told it is not Morrocan leather it is Nigerian leather, leather you take from Sokoto, very high quality and there is hardly any machine or equipment that does not have leather component whether, it is furniture, whatever it is, you have them in Ships, aeroplane, in cars there must be leather and we are trying to make sure that we can now add value.

“If you add value to leather you will not be selling them as raw skin. We will process it, we will add value to it, we will convert it into products so that we can create jobs.

“This is a big country, if you have a country with a large population you must find a way to create employment opportunities for your people. There are many other policies that will be coming, we are going to have a policy on Nanotechnology and all aspects of technology.

“This ministry is ready, we are prepared we are working day and night to make sure that our country’s economy will no longer depend on commodities we want our economy to depend on innovation-driven knowledge.

“That is why the name of the Ministry is changed. That drive must come from innovation and innovation is you are ready to have something you add a new thing to it. Anybody can innovate, even housewives can innovate and we want all Nigerians to be innovators.

“We are going to make Nigeria a country of innovators so that there will be production everywhere, you produce in your homes, offices that is what we are going to do.

“If you look at some of these countries that are doing very well, look at the first car manufacturers in America where did they manufacture in cartons. That is where they started. That is what we want to do in Nigeria so that anybody who wants to work will find work to do.”

He recalled that in 2017, the Federal Executive Council, under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, approved the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (NSTIR 2017 – 2030).

“This was to use Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to catalyse Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Competitiveness.

“This document laid out a core policy for driving positive socio-economic outcomes through Science, Technology and Innovation initiatives in all activity sectors of the economy.

“This has necessitated the Ministry’s change of name from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) which has now been approved by Mr President.

He said the new development will require the Ministry to drive the innovation Agenda.

“The FMSTI will embark on a branding campaign, in line with its expected mandate and its role in ensuring that there is improvement in productivity, economic growth and societal development through Science, Technology and Innovation.

“This change of name will help us to meet the needs of other sectors of the Nigerian economy and all stakeholders, by supporting the generation and application of knowledge and innovation to solve socio-economic challenges, as well as providing a policy and funding environment that will establish the National System of Innovation(NSI).

“As an enabler of government, society and industry through policy, the FMSTI will also focus on ensuring the provision of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)-based solutions to overcome international, national and societal challenges.

“This approval of the change of name will be gazetted to enable legal and policy frameworks as back-up for institutional and organisational arrangements, effective coordination of the NSI, development of appropriate work programmes and job descriptions.

“This development will help us bring about a shift in Research and Development (R&D) that is industry and services’ demand-driven, resulting in rapid commercialization and ultimately improved global competitiveness ranking of Nigeria.”

He observed that there has been a missing link with the statutory responsibility of the Ministry, however, he said the decision by the President will ensure that the missing link will be adequately addressed.

He said only Science and  Technology (S&T) which has been the ministry’s domain cannot move the nation to its desired global competitiveness level. Hence, Science, Technology and Innovation will spark off a demand-driven knowledge-based economy, characterized by industry and services R&D programmes, projects and activities within the STI Ecosystem