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Everything to Know about Uche Nnaji, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Few people are aware that Nigeria has two tech-focused ministries. The first ministry, headed by Bosun Tijani, is the Communications and Digital Economy Ministry. The second, led by Uche Nnaji, is the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology.

Introduction

Uche Nnaji, widely known as Nwakaibie, hails from Akpugo Nkanu West LGA in Enugu State, Nigeria. He is the eldest of four children born to Chief and Mrs. Obed Nnaji. Currently, Uche is happily married and blessed with four children.

Uche Nnaji: Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology

Uche Nnaji: Early Life and Education

Uche received his entire education in Enugu State, attending the University of Nigeria’s Nsukka Campus, St. Patrick’s College in Emene, and Santa Maria Primary School (now Ziks Avenue Primary School) in Enugu. His deep connection to the area earned him the title of an authentic “Enugu Boy.”

Tragically, Uche’s father passed away in 1978. However, his mother admirably stepped up to the challenge, taking on the financial responsibility of raising the family and managing her late husband’s estate. She ensured that her children received a nurturing upbringing and a strong foundation.

Uche’s Early Successes and Initial Businesses

Uche embarked on a successful career as a businessman, beginning with the purchase, installation, and commissioning of specialized hospital-grade plumbing and sanitary wares for the new UNTH, ITUKU/OZALLA. He actively engaged in contracts for medical equipment installation and procurement, which early on established him as a formidable entrepreneur.

During this time, he gleaned invaluable insights from senior executives, learning the virtues of patience and humility. Notably, Uche made a groundbreaking contribution to Nigeria’s medical industry by introducing the country’s first CT scan in the mid-1980s, making him the youngest and first African to do so.

His achievements in business propelled him into politics, where he developed a passion for assisting disadvantaged groups lacking the financial means to participate in politics. Consequently, he provided financial support to numerous individuals in need.

Political Career and Activism

In the 2023 general elections, Uche emerged as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress. His journey in politics, however, dates back to the UNCP/GDM/DPN political era, where he demonstrated defiance against the then-military administration of Enugu State.

Imprisonment and Release

Despite facing significant opposition, Uche led his senatorial zone to ensure Chief Jim Nwobodo’s victory over Senator Ken Nnamani, leading to Nnamani’s first political setback. For his opposition to the Abacha transition scheme and support for opposition candidates in Enugu State, Uche served nearly four months in jail.

Following General Abacha’s demise, General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s tenure as Head of State brought about the release of all political prisoners, including Uche. This pivotal moment marked a resurgence in Uche’s political activism.

Establishment of PDP in Enugu State

Uche played a pivotal role in establishing the PDP in Enugu State during the dawn of party politics in 1998. His dedication and strategic acumen contributed significantly to the party’s growth and influence in the region.

Senatorial Election Victory and Public Service

Uche’s political achievements include winning the senatorial election for the Enugu East senatorial zone in 1999, later relinquishing his seat to HE Chief Jim Nwobodo. He also held various key positions within the PDP, including Foundation Member and Convener in the South East Zone and Enugu State, respectively. Additionally, Uche served in public positions such as Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and Chairman of the Finance and General Purpose Committee of the FCDA, among others.

Uche’s Appointment as Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology

On August 16, 2023, Uche Nnaji was appointed as the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


The appointment of Chief Uche Nnaji as the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation heralds a new era for Nigeria’s technological advancement. To ensure his ministry’s success, Chief Nnaji must prioritize the revitalization of the 17 agencies under his purview. This article provides an overview of each agency’s mandate and suggests strategies for improvement.

1. National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI):


Chief Nnaji should conduct independent research assessments to identify weaknesses and propose solutions for enhancing the agency’s effectiveness in nurturing technology-based enterprises.

2. Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN):


The Minister must engage the private sector to ensure the implementation of energy policies, addressing the challenges facing the ECN.

3. Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT):


A detailed assessment of NISLT’s effectiveness in managing laboratories across tertiary and research institutions is imperative to optimize its mandate.

4. National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA):


An impact assessment of genetically modified crops should be commissioned to inform policy decisions and enhance NABDA’s contributions to biotechnology research.

5. National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM):


Chief Nnaji must address the gaps in technology planning, development, and diffusion to maximize NACETEM’s impact on Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

6. National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT):


Investigations into the agency’s capacity in renewable energy research and industrial effluent waste treatment are essential to leveraging its potential in advancing Nigeria’s chemical technology sector.

7. Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO):


Efforts should be made to fulfill the agency’s mandate in technology research and the operation of a nuclear research facility to realize its full potential.

8. Project Development Institute (PRODA):


An independent asset assessment review of PRODA facilities is necessary to revitalize their role in technological self-reliance and industrial development.

9. Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO):


Chief Nnaji should explore strategies to enhance FIIRO’s performance in promoting entrepreneurship and accelerating industrialization in Nigeria.

10. National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI):


The Minister must address the underperformance of NASENI and ensure accountability in the utilization of levies collected over the years.

11. Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis and Onchocerciasis (NITR):


Efforts should be made to resolve leadership conflicts and refocus the agency on its research mandate to combat neglected tropical diseases effectively.

12. National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP):


Challenges hindering technology transfer agreements must be addressed to enhance NOTAP’s role in technology acquisition and development.

13. Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA):


The completion of research projects on malaria elimination and anti-diabetic treatments is crucial to harnessing indigenous medicine for healthcare delivery.

14. National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA):


Asset assessment reviews should be conducted urgently to strengthen NARSDA’s capabilities in satellite technology and data management.

15. Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC):


The Minister should investigate reasons for the rejection of Nigeria’s agro- and mineral resources in international markets to support RMRDC’s efforts in promoting industrial raw material growth.

16. Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBBRI):


A commission of inquiry should be established to identify opportunities for innovation in building and road construction to enhance NBBRI’s contributions to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.

17. National Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST):


Efforts should be made to advance the implementation of the National Leather Products Policy to harness Nigeria’s potential in leather technology and goods production.

FAQ about Chief Uche Nnaji and the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation:

1. Who is Chief Uche Nnaji?

  • Chief Uche Nnaji is a prominent figure in Nigerian politics and business, recently appointed as the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

2. What is the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation responsible for?

  • The Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation is tasked with facilitating the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance Nigeria’s socio-economic development through appropriate technological inputs into productive activities.

3. What are some of Chief Uche Nnaji’s key priorities as Minister?

  • Chief Uche Nnaji aims to revitalize Nigeria’s science and technology sector through innovation and research, foster collaboration between the public and private sectors, and ensure the effective utilization of resources within the ministry.

4. How many agencies fall under the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation?

  • There are 17 agencies under the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation, each with specific mandates ranging from technology incubation to space research and development.

5. What challenges does Chief Uche Nnaji face in his new role?

  • Chief Uche Nnaji faces challenges such as improving the performance and coordination of agencies within the ministry, addressing gaps in technology research and development, and fostering innovation in key sectors of the economy.

6. How does Chief Uche Nnaji plan to ensure the success of his tenure as minister?

  • Chief Uche Nnaji plans to implement strategies such as conducting independent assessments of agency effectiveness, engaging stakeholders to foster collaboration, and prioritizing accountability and innovation in ministry activities.

7. What impact is Chief Uche Nnaji expected to have on Nigeria’s science and technology sector?

  • Chief Uche Nnaji’s leadership is expected to drive progress and innovation in Nigeria’s science and technology sector, contributing to the country’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

8. How can stakeholders engage with Chief Uche Nnaji and the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation?

  • Stakeholders can engage with Chief Uche Nnaji and the ministry through various channels, such as consultations, partnerships, and participation in ministry-led initiatives and programs aimed at advancing science, technology, and innovation in Nigeria.

9. What resources are available to support initiatives within the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation?

  • The Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation has access to government funding, grants, and partnerships with international organizations and institutions to support initiatives aimed at advancing science, technology, and innovation in Nigeria.

10. How can the public stay informed about developments within the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation?

  • The public can stay informed about developments within the ministry through official announcements, press releases, and updates on the ministry’s website and social media channels. Additionally, stakeholders can attend events and conferences organized by the ministry to learn about ongoing initiatives and projects.

Conclusion:


Chief Uche Nnaji’s success as Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation hinges on his ability to address the challenges facing the agencies under his ministry. By implementing the suggested strategies and fostering accountability and innovation, he can propel Nigeria towards technological advancement and economic growth.

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Christian Maximilian
Christian Maximilian

I am a Software Engineer, technical writer, and overall tech enthusiast. For me, utilizing my skills as a Software Engineer to perform Technical Search Engine Optimization is not just a job, but something I gladly incorporate into my pastimes as well, and I have been doing this for over 3 years.

When I'm not coding or writing technical documentation, I enjoy listening to music and exploring new genres.

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