The Senate has seen the need to establish an agency in the South East saddles with responsibilities of generating and catalyzing industrialization by carrying out industrial research from the laboratory stage to the pilot plant stage in a quest for technology development of the country.
The bill titled Projects Development Agency (PDA) has already scaled the second reading on the floor of the Senate.
The bill is also charged with the broad function of rendering consultancy services to government, industries and individuals.
The bill, sponsored by Frank Ibezim, Senator representing (APC lmo North) seeks to give Project Development Institute (PRODA) in Enugu State, South East (Federal Science and Technology) that has been existing for over 43 years a Legal backing to function optimally.
According to Senator Ibezim, once PRODA has a legal backing it required, it would be very effective and rain out the right functions in research and development in the south east where they have lots of the need to showcase natural products.
“For PRODA that has been established for 43 years, in Enugu, south east of Nigeria to function optimally, we have to give it a legal backing. So coming to the Senate and realizing that it has no legal backing, l felt like, there is no reason why we should not give it a legal backing because once PRODA have a legal backing, it would be very effective and do right functions it ought to do.
“A lot of people were sucked to hear that PRODA do not have legal backing, so l have no doubt that the Senate Committee on Science and Technology which I am also a member would be happy to do the necessary works by calling for a public hearing for all stakeholders to contribute to the bill, do the relevant legislative works that is required for the passage of the bill.
“And when it is passed into law, as a research institute it would perform under international best practices. So it is apt and timely knowing the time we are in now, we need to recreate whatever thing we can do to diversify the nation’s economy through technology
“Nigeria is a country where more than 70% of the citizens are 40 years and below , it means that we have a challenge of jobs creation; so PRODA, effectively would not only create jobs but fast track the technology development in the country.
It would be recalled that PRODA formerly known as the Research and Production Department of the old Eastern Region, the Institute was the manufacturing engine room for the prosecution of the civil war for the defunct Biafra Republic.
One of the most notable inventions of the institute during the civil war was the “ogbunigwe” bomb, a self-propelled rocket with an 8-kilometre range that could wipe out a company of enemy troops.
The low-cost prototype was taken on a roadshow across the country. However, a functional version of the vehicle did not see the light of the day as the government later jettisoned the idea.
After years of being in limbo, PRODA crept back into the consciousness of many Nigerians recently after the immediate past Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, announced that by 2018 Nigeria would start the production of pencils. PRODA was the agency saddled with the responsibility of leading this “revolution.”
But despite huge budgetary allocations, perhaps to kick-off the pencil production, the government has been unable to rouse the comatose agency from its deep slumber. The so-called pencil revolution is yet to start, and the agency is fast rotting away.