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THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIA POLITICAL SYSTEM

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THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIA POLITICAL SYSTEM

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Human development history has shown that sustainable development and self-sustaining progress of any country has generally followed the development and applications of science and technology (S&T), controlled by and responsive to the needs and endowment of a country (Adeniyi, 1999).

Many developed countries of the world today achieved their level of development through the adaptation of technology and development of an efficient S&T capacity. There is no doubt that the importance of S&T to  Nigerian political system  has been recognized by nations who currently are in the forefront of human development index. Consequently, human and national sustainable development are determined largely by the level of indigenous and endogenous scientific and technological research, the communication of research results and on the knowledge acquired and brought to bear on policy making, programme formulation, project implementation, monitoring and impact assessment.

Furthermore, any society without indigenous and endogenous S&T research capacity and capability and high level of literacy cannot but continue to remain underdeveloped (Adeniyi, 1999,). Scientific research in all its forms is the cornerstone of a nation’s social and economic development (Abiodun, 1999). Though geographical and human size of a nation may be indicators of its potential power, the real power of a country is measured today in terms of its economic progress, that is, the proven capacity to translate scientific knowledge through its judicious and determined exploitation of technologies in economic productivity. It has been observed that the Nigerian society lacks an in-depth understanding of the role of S&T in Nigerian political system  plans (Abiodun, 1999,). The need to integrate S&T into national planning has been overemphasized.

In reviewing efforts at bringing science and technology to bear on  Nigerian political system , it is important to examine underdevelopment of S&T in less developed countries and relate it to current national underdevelopment. It has been established that science has a function in relation to the development of production. This function is partly driven by economic forces. Karl Marx, a classical economist once observed the importance of economic organization in the development of link between science and production.

He argued that the requirements of the economy will eventually have an effect on the direction of scientific development itself. Furthermore, that technological advance generates new specialized skills at the interface between science and production, notably the various types of engineering skills.

The new specialists were able to interpret the needs of the entrepreneur to the scientists and economic demand began to affect the orientation of science. The prime mover here is the search for profit. There is no doubt, that economic demands for innovation had tremendous influence in the evolution of science and indeed R&D. The phases in the development of relations between science and production had been identified as follows (Bernal, 1970):

  • Early part of the industrial revolution when production technologies were often the source of new scientific discoveries.
  • Second phase which started with the development of the electrical and organic chemical industries informed the new relationship between science and production. During this phase, research laboratory became the source of technological innovations and entrepreneurs drew science into closer relationships with production as they began to invest directly in scientific research as a potential source of profit.

The issues raised here attempts to support the belief that science has a social function in relation to the development of production.

Furthermore, the demands of the production system can influence the way in which scientific institutions develop and the content of science.

Industrialized market economies developed based on the relationship between science and production. The form in which scientific institutions developed and linked to production in advanced countries was further strengthened through linkage of network of engineering institutions and machinery manufacturers and the types of research carried out.

Some schools of thought are of the opinion that scientific institutions such as research institutes, scientific societies, science policy organizations do not have the same social role everywhere. They argued that scientific institutions in less developed countries might as well serve different social purposes from those in advanced countries. They concluded that by building new research institutes, there are indications that they will function in the same way as the existing ones and may have very little to do with the development of production (Cooper, 1978).

An alternative view to the current state of development of scientific institutions in less developed countries was linked to “technological dependence”. The dynamics of the underdeveloped economy was observed to create a situation where local scientific institutions were alienated from production.

For instance, the import substitution industrialization strategy adopted by most less developed countries encouraged technological dependence. In most countries foreign technology was substituted for technologies that might have been developed by local scientific research and development institutions. The most important element in this view is not that there are import–substitution policy, but simply that the technologies needed generally exist already in the industrialized countries and are often proprietary (ie owned by private enterprises). This technological dependence adversely affected the thinking and orientation of the potential beneficiaries of local scientific endeavours.

For instance, there were cases where local research institutions have successfully developed the types of technology required by local enterprises, but they were rejected in preference to the foreign version on grounds that it is less likely to work.

The consequence of this is that scientific institutions over the years became alienated from production activities. In fact, they became “marginalized” as there were no demands for locally developed technologies from the production sector. Invariably, science became largely for consumption rather than an investment as in the industrialized countries. Also, lack of pressures on science from the local economy, implies that the main determinants of research orientation are the individual decision of research workers. In Nigeria, the situation was not different from other less developed countries.

The incapacity of Nigeria to use scientific and technological research as dynamic elements for social development is a consequence of the characteristics of the prevailing national projects. Unless the approach to implementation of national projects takes into consideration the aspirations of the majority of Nigerian populace, scientific resource will continue to be cultural luxury.

Since after the independence there has been considerable national activity to increase scientific and technological capacity of the country. This is reflected in the number of institutional frameworks for S &T development in the country.

Early efforts to promote the development of S & T national capacity after independence centred on direct aid from developed countries. This type of aid include donations and loans for scientific equipment, subsidies for research project, missions of qualified personnel to train nationals or to help formulate S&T policy and scholarships for further study abroad. Though the foundation was laid through foreign assistance, however, very limited efforts were made to build on this foundation and also to strengthen the existing institutional frameworks.

Consequently, scientific and technological systems in the country were very limited and totally unconnected with national problems. In contrast to situation in developed countries, science planning endeavoured to control and direct existing efficient scientific and technological research system. After more than four decades of efforts at S& T development, what are the results? A cursory analysis indicates that in general terms, there has been very limited progress made in absolute terms. One remarkable observation is the quantitative deficiencies of Nigerian R & D system.

In developed countries for instance, most R&D is on subjects that were connected directly or indirectly with national goals such as defence, social development or prestige. Scientific development was reflected in the development of industrial and agricultural technology and in the growth of production. In Nigeria, considerable numbers of scientific researches were not designed to address the basic societal problems. This lack of connection between the goals of scientific research and the needs of society is a characteristic of underdevelopment (Herrera, 1978). The irrelevance of much scientific works in developing countries is widely acknowledged and hardly requires proof.

Evidence abound that agricultural production in Nigeria increased after the second world war, of which two-thirds of the increase was as a result of more land cultivated and not due to increased productivity or yield. (Adeniyi,1999). In contrast to Europe, despite the limited land availability, production increased remarkably due to increase in yield and productivity within the same period. In the industrial sector, the situation is not different either. Industrial technological research is practically non-existent.

The bottom line of the whole scenario lies in the prevailing nature of economic and social structure.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM

The importance of science and technology to Nigerian political system cannot be overemphasized. However, the approach and strategies for achieving an S&T-driven economic development deserves consideration and appraisal. A wide variety of different policies have been pursued in Nigeria in an effort to foster technological development with the aim of accelerating the pace of economic development.

Furthermore, these sectoral development policies were formulated to guide the process of development in relevant areas of the economy.

These policies include among others, the following:

  • Science and technology policy, which aims to provide innovative initiatives for development in all aspects of social well-being such as agriculture, industry, health, etc.
  • Industrial policy, which aims to increase productivity through the application of modern technologies and machineries.
  • Agricultural policy, which aims to increase food production in order to ensure food security with minimum degradation to the environment.
  • Other policies include health policy, environmental policy, economic and trade policy, and social policy.

The key questions to these policies are as follows:

  • Has the S&T policy been a critical determinant of national development performance?
  • Has the application of S&T contributed to the development of industries in Nigeria as well as increase the industrial productivity?
  • How has S&T impacted on agricultural production leading to increase in food production and ensuring food security and poverty reduction?
  • What relationship exists between S&T policy institutions and the socio-economic frameworks established for national development?

This study intends to address these questions as well as identify factors responsible for inability of Nigeria to fully realize its national objectives of S&T-driven rapid industrialization geared towards increasing national productive output and developing a dynamic and self-reliant economy. Also, efforts shall be made to unravel why the following ineffective mechanisms hindered the national S&T objectives:

  • dearth of people-oriented, market–driven, job-creating dynamic S&T policies to guide Nigerian political system  efforts;
  • minimum investment in the training of skilled human resources to sustain scientific creativity and technological innovation and failure to create an enabling environment for active S&T research and development;
  • low investments in S&T infrastructure;
  • inefficiently managed S&T institutions with duplicating mandates;
  • poor intra-government cooperation and collaboration among key S&T stakeholders;
  • lack of an integrated approach to Nigerian political system  efforts by policy makers, administrators, academicians/ researchers, development bankers, financiers, industrialists and entrepreneurs; and
  • faulty mechanisms for creating an interface between S&T, industry and government.

The above issues underline the rationale for this study and it is expected that the outcome will provide strategies for establishment of frameworks for short-term, medium-term and long-term plan of action for operation of the current S&T policy. Also, practical programmes and projects will be identified for consideration by the Nigerian government in order to give focus and relevance to the S&T policy in addressing societal needs.

1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The immediate objectives of the study are:

  • To review the current National S&T Policy and present a critique on it based on the point of view of explicit and implicit S&T policy, and its relevance to the society.
  • To identify the existence or not, of a National R&D policy which should give the necessary goals, guide lines and directions for R&D on national projects.
  • To analyze the research planning process and implementation with a view to identifying the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and constraints to the total utilization of S&T policy for national development.
  • To examine the existing institutional frameworks for research and relate their mandates in terms of social function of S&T.
  • To identify achievements of the Research Institutions (RIs) and constraints hindering their greater contribution to socio-economic growth and development of the country.
  • To examine the approach to R&D as it is currently being practiced and relate it to industrialization in the context of market-driven R&D and commercialization of viable research results.

The development or futuristic objectives are as follows:

  • To lay a lasting foundation for future works on S&T policy formulation, planning and implementation as well as promoting and evaluation in Nigeria.
  • Provide the required background knowledge for awareness creation on the relationship between science, technology and society.
  • Provide platform for promotion and dissemination of S&T information that are designed to assist in commercializing viable research results in order to add value to the Nations’ natural resources with a view to reducing heavy dependence on importation of raw materials and capital goods with attendant foreign exchange implications.

1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

The essence of this study is encapsulated in the review of the past and current efforts made in Nigeria to achieve  Nigerian political system  through the application of science and technology (S&T). Opinion makers believed that science and technology have not contributed to the growth and development of the country despite decades of its recognition as contributory sources of economic development. These opinions often shape the society’s’ appreciation and understanding of the role science and technology could play in achieving sustainable development. It had far-reaching implications and influences on Nigerian political system  both in the area of education, agriculture, health, environment and industrial development.

Although studies have been conducted in the country on the role of research in Nigerian political system  as well as management of R&D and the various constraints limiting commercialization of R&D, not much has been done in the area of science and technology policy and societal development. Moreover, the first national policy on S&T was enunciated about 18 years ago and the current policy was formulated a year ago. Considering the time frame between the first policy and the current policy and relating the implementation of the first policy to the socio-economic development of Nigeria within this period, there are some challenges in terms of determining the level of impact made by S&T policy.

This study therefore, attempts to relate the two science and technology policy frameworks to societal development from the point of view of the nature of the policies, its awareness and appreciation by the society, its application in guiding societal development as well as the overall level of S&T literacy. It is expected that the study will reveal the various limitations to the evolution of S&T in Nigeria and make valid suggestions on what could be done to improve on the current approach so as to make S&T truly international and competitive in the country.

The findings of the study will be of immense benefits to all stakeholders in the science and technology sector and more importantly, to the government. Since government is the major stakeholder and financier of S&T programmes and activities, the study will provide a framework for government to begin its reform process in the field of S&T by making it more market-driven and private sectorled.

Also, it will provide a guide towards formulating measures to promote S&T in the country. The findings shall provide the background information to assess the effectiveness of S&T structure and the overall performance of its institutional frameworks. Part of the overall expectation from this study is the development of national indicators for the assessment of the impact of S&T on Nigerian political system .

The study shall emphasize on the need for development of S&T infrastructure and total utilization of S&T capacity in pursuance of national projects aimed at socio-economic development. Also, the organized private sector will find the outcome of the study quite useful in shaping opinion on the need for government to foster effective and unbroken linkage sector in order to ensure that the private sector benefit from indigenous research efforts and promote technology acquisition and transfer from developed and developing countries.

It was therefore, anticipated, that the ideas emerging from the study could be used by voluntary and non-governmental agencies when implementing policies relating to science and technology. It could also be used by educational (universities), training and R&D institutions as bases for planning new programmes and research strategies and evolving appropriate support systems for application of S&T to national development. Finally, it is hoped that the research findings from this study will generate diverse interests in the field of S&T policy formulation and implementation, especially policy study in Nigeria and Africa in general.

1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESIS

In order to validate the findings from the study a quantitative analysis was carried out through the use of statistical instrument. To this end, the following hypotheses were formulated for testing.

HYPOTHESIS 1

Null (Ho): The Nigerian society is not aware of and do not contribute to the formulation of S&T policy.

Alternative (H1): The Nigerian society is aware of and do contribute to the formulation of S&T policy.

HYPOTHESIS 2

Null (Ho): Science and technology policy has not been a critical determinant of development performance in Nigeria.

Alternative (HI): Science and technology has been a critical determinant of development performance in Nigeria

HYPOTHESIS 3

Null (Ho): Science and technology policy has not played a critical role in  the political system  of Nigeria.

Alternative: Science and technology policy has played a critical

(HI): role in  the political system  of Nigeria.

HYPOTHESIS 4

Null (Ho): Lack of demand for innovations in industry and agriculture is not responsible for inability of S&T to impact on Nigerian political system .

Alternative: Lack of demand for innovations in industry and

(HI): agriculture is responsible for inability of S&T to impact on the Nigerian political system .

The above hypotheses were tested using chi-square (X2) statistical

analysis.

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The study looked at the past (1986) and current (2003) National policy on Science and Technology and reviewed the documents along the line of their explicit and implicit functions. The assessment of the impact of R&D on Nigerian political system  was limited to applied research carried out by Research Institutes in Nigeria. The study will examined among other issues, the following:

 Review of the National S&T Policy

 Critique on the National S &T Policy

 Science and Technology Literacy

 Research Policy and Development

 Research Planning, Analysis and Implementation.

 Institutional Frameworks for Research (Research Institutions)

 Achievements and Constraints

 Infrastructure and Management of R&D

 Innovation and Technology Acquisition.

 Capacity Building

 Funding of S & T development and Research

 Market-driven R&D and the Role of Private sector

 Communication with Scientists and the Public

 

 

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