A Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisation of Nigeria (CCCSON) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the slash of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) grant from N44.56 billion to it initial state of N56.14 billion.
Nigerian governors, had advised President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to take some urgent coordinated steps as efforts to instil fiscal discipline and prevent the nation from economic collapse.
On April 14, the Senate, at a plenary approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for adjustments to the 2022 fiscal framework.
The adjustment made led to the net reductions of NDDC grant by N13.46 billion from N102.78 billion to N89.32 billion; NEDC, by N6.30 billion from N48.08 billion to N41.78 billion; and NASENI, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion, among other reductions.
In a statement by CCCSON on Tuesday in Kaduna, they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to increase NASENI’s grant to 2 per cent as it was earlier, considering the Agency’s strategic importance.
The statement was signed by Cmrd. Abdulsalam Kazeem, President, Unified Nigerian Youth forum, Cmrd. Aliyu Sani, President Arewa Youth Federation and Cmrd. Elizabeth Uche, Converner, South East Youths for Sustainable Growth and Development.
Other signatories to the statement were Hon. Abdulmajeed Oyeniye,
Speaker, Oodua Youth Parliament and Activist Gabriel Emmanuel-Abela,
National Coordinator, South South Youth for Peace and Stability.
The Coalition noted that NASENI was established to stimulate linkages between science and technology, academic and Industrial sector and the country’s economic and Industrial transformation
According to them, Nigeria’s inability to produce what it consumes and over reliance on foreign made goods and technologies, was responsible for the weakened naira and growing unemployment which translated to the unprecedented increase in crime rate.
“To reverse this negative trends, President Buhari did what the successive regimes failed to do by mandating FIRS to deduct the approved grant from the source, with the promise of increasing it, if the Agency justified what they are getting.
“Since the Presidential order translates to automatic reduction in funds available to States from the central feeding bottle, our governors felt they have gotten a perfect avenue to attract more funds to their state, hence, the unpatriotic call to reduce the grant.
“We note that it is this mind-set of the governors that made it almost impossible for both Federal and State governments to solve the lingering ASUU strike.
“It is unfortunate that instead of looking at the merit of research based and development driven institutions and advocating for their empowerment, they choose to suggest downsizing of their grants,” they said.
The Coalition urged President Buhari to not only discard NASENI’s grant slash, but conclude plans in ensuring that the grant is increased from the 1 per cent to 2 per cent.
“NASENI’s actions towards science, innovation and technology is timely and it will stand challenge of time, hence for the imperative need for the upward review of their grant,” they said.
They called on Governors to minimise relying on Federal government for help and look inward in raising funds for running their states.
“The present turn of events globally tells us that leadership is for those who can bring something to the table not those who want to reap where they didn’t sow.
“For instance, NASENI in recent time has helped greatly in developing local capacity and capabilities, which in return has taken us from consumer base economy to knowledge based innovative and manufacturing economy with significant and visible economy benefits”.
The Coalition commended NASENI for designing first made in Nigeria Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Helicopter for Agriculture and Security Surveillance, the role they played during COVID-19 surge and making it possible for mechanised Agriculture at the hands of locals.
They urged the National Assembly to throw out any bill aimed reducing NASENI’S grant in appreciation of the agency’s efforts towards the spate of infrastructural, digital and technological development across the Nation.
The approved revised 2022 fiscal framework, the Senate also on April 14, approved debt service provision of N76.13 billion, and net reductions in Statutory Transfers by N66.07 billion.