Authors: Turner T. Isoun, Miriam J. Isoun
Publisher: Bookbuilders Editions Africa
Year of Publication: 2013
Professor T. Isoun was appointed Honourable Minister of Science and Technology by the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at a time (2000) when there had been a lack of direction and focus regarding science, technology, and innovation as drivers for development. Thus, from 1980 to 1999, the federal government did not have a clear vision with respect to the purpose of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, however, had a clear vision for using science, technology, and innovation to invigorate the Nigerian economy and gave the Ministry a central role in implementing his vision. The Ministry of Science and Technology under Prof. Isoun was one of the few ministries that used its own staff and local expertise to formulate its policies and plans for re-vitalization of the Ministry and its Agencies and parastatal institutions. To facilitate this in-house activity, Professor Isoun established as a first step, committees to address the adoption of a focus on high technology. The declared fundamental strategies were: 1. To get policies in place for the application and management of key technologies and 2. To emphasize merit in the selection and appointment of top managers of the Agencies within the Ministry. 3. A concurrent strategy was to select target technologies and act to acquire capacity and projects by going directly to the frontiers of the technologies to gain competitive advantages in commerce and development. In other words, Prof. Isoun believed that Nigerians (indeed, Africans) did not need to master obsolete science and technology when it was possible to go straight to the cutting edge of essential and readily applicable technologies. There were challenges that this approach would face of course.There were numerous instances of competition for resources and obstructive protection of turf and territory by different ministries and parastatals. There was a debate as to whether a Ministry of Science and Technology should stand alone or be embedded in The Presidency. Technology needs to be driven by the vision, political will, conviction and sustained commitment of all tiers and sectors of governments. In spite of the challenges, Prof. Isoun was convinced that Nigeria must acquire such versatile technologies as space, ICT, biotechnology, energy, and climate change adaptation technologies if it were to be positioned strategically for high tech acquisition and implementation for local industrial, economic and social development. More importantly the acquisition and application of high technologies in Nigeria would ensure that the country would of right, take its place at the tables where far-reaching decisions are made that reflect the major security and equity challenges of the world in order to protect and develop its people.
About the Authors:
Prof. Turner Timinipre Isoun was Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Science and Technology from October 2000 through May 2007. He was driven by a passion and sense of urgency that Nigeria must harness all its resources and use science, technology and innovation (STI) to enhance human well-being. During his tenure, he initiated policies that promoted modern science, technology and innovation for the enhancement of integrated resource utilization and human capacity development. At the same time, he guided policy implementation of key programme areas of high-technology and construction of significant infrastructure to promote programme sustainability by subsequent administrations.
As Minister, he worked not only with Agencies within the Ministry of Science and Technology, but also with other Ministries, and with the private sector for the purpose of finding ways to do things differently , through applying STI for propelling Nigeria s development forward. Before becoming Minister, Prof. Isoun had a meritorious career as a university professor and research scientist. He obtained his degrees (B.Sc. (Hons), DVM, and Ph.D.) from Michigan State University, USA. Professor Isoun has been
1. Member of the Board of Trustees of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS),
2. Treasurer of the African Academy of Science (AAS),
3. Founding Editor of the African Academy of Sciences Journal, Discovery and Innovation (D&I),
4. Member of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), and the
5. Pioneer Vice Chancellor (President) of Nigeria s first university of science and technology(the Rivers State University of Science and Technology).
Dr. Miriam (Forbes) Isoun, was one of the founders (in 1992) of the Niger Delta Wetlands Centre (NDWC). As the Executive Director, she has focused the NGO s activities for achieving its mission to improve the quality of life of the people of the Niger Delta through: 1. Natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. 2. Applications of modern science and technology (e.g. renewable energies, ICT, biotechnology and mitigation of climate change) and 3. Targeted, site-specific development projects and capacity building. She received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Ibadan where she was a lecturer and carried out research in cell and molecular biology until her retirement from academics. Prof. Turner Isoun and his wife, Miriam, have spent the past fifty years of their working life in Nigeria in academics, public service and non-profit development institutions.
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