The Federal Government on Wednesday in Enugu said the country must stop importing pencil in the next two years.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, gave the directive at the Projects Development Institute (PRODA).
Onu equally mandated the Institute to produce first made in Nigeria 6 Cylinder Engine.
He said apart from boosting the country?s economy, production of pencil at the PRODA would create
about four hundred thousand jobs (400,000), which is one of the main thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari?s administration.
The Minister, who spoke after a facility tour of PRODA establishments at
Emene and Iva valley, both in Enugu, regretted that despite the fact that Nigeria had the capacity to manufacture pencils, it had continued
to import the item.
Onu, who said it was wrong for the country to be importing pencils when it had the capacity to produce them, noted that ?it is unthinkable that 55 years after independence, Nigeria Is still not producing pencils when we have the human and material resources in the country.
?PRODA has to produce pencils for Nigeria and they have given me the assurance that this can be done and that with pencil manufacture here we will be creating 400,000 new jobs.
?The (Muhammadu) Buhari administration is committed to creating new jobs and growing our economy,? he said.
The minister said that the ministry would give PRODA the necessary assistance to realise the project.
He said that the agency could do more than it was doing now, with the needed support.
He said that the country could leverage on pencil production to increase its foreign earnings.
?For the information of Nigerians, pencil is not produced anywhere in West Africa, so I am directing PRODA to realise this within the next years,? he said.
Onu said that another area of interest was in the production of Nigerian made six cylinder engines.
?The six cylinder engine is one thing they must produce.
?This is a mandate they have to work on because once we have the capacity to produce our own engine then many of our defence and manufacturing requirements will be met.
?We need to build the capacity for self-reliance in Nigeria. We are tired of copying others and importing all sorts of things. We want others to come to Nigeria and learn,? he said.
Onu said that the ministry had 17 agencies, adding that all the agencies would specialise in their areas of comparative advantage and efficiency to grow the economy.
In an address of welcome, the Director-General of PRODA, Mr Charles Agulanna, represented by the Director of Engineering, Dr Edwin Oriaku said that the agency, established by the former Eastern Nigeria Government, was one of the oldest research institutes in the ministry.
Agulanna regretted that the institute had not received the attention it required from the Federal Government.
He said that allocation of funds had persistently been short of requirement for research and development.
?PRODA?s yearning over the years for retooling to replace the obsolete machines inherited from the former Eastern Nigeria has only started yielding results in 2009,? he said.
He expressed regret that some material imported for the production of pencils had been withheld at a Lagos wharf for over 20 years.
?The degree of success we achieved in PRODA in awakening local capabilities in equipment manufacture is indicated by the vast numbers of self-employed craftsmen surviving on equipment disseminated by us,? he said.
Agulanna said that the institute had the capacity to make greater impact in the country if enabled.