Presidency directs FIRS to remit NASENI statutory funds to boost technology
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday offered automatic employment to 110 ex-corps members in the Federal Civil Service and scholarships for the pursuit of post-graduate studies up to doctoral level in any university in Nigeria.
As part of steps to boost Science and Technology development in the country, the Presidency has directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to remit the statutory deductions accruable to the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI.
The agency may soon get one to two per cent of the Federation Account as contained in its establishment law.
The directive followed the upholding of the decision of the Governing Board of NASENI, which is headed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the chairman.
The directive has also been communicated to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
In the NASENI Establishment Act 2004, FIRS is statutorily expected to deduct and remit to it a quarter per cent of the levy on turnover of firms earning over N100million and above.
Although NASENI was established in 1992, the law guiding its funding has not been complied with by successive governments.
But in January, President Muhammadu Buhari decided to ensure total compliance with NASENI Act. Buhari has also approved the placement of NASENI directly under the supervision of the Presidency instead of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
According to a letter from the Presidency, signed by the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the FIRS has been directed to remit the deducted levy on turnover as approved by Buhari.
The letter said: “I write to inform you that on 24th January 2021, Mr. President approved the prayers of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) on the funding of NASENI activities.
“In accordance with the NASENI Establishment Act, one of the prayers of the EVC relates to the funding of the agency via a levy on income or turnover of commercial companies and firms with turnover of N4million (later increased to N100million) by the NASENI Governing Board) at the rate of a quarter per cent( 1/4 %) of turnover.
“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to act on the implementation of this provision of the NASENI Act as soon as possible.”
It was learnt that the presidential directive was informed by seven key projects (inventions) being under-taking by NASENI with funding as a major hindrance.
One of the key projects is a Made-In-Nigeria helicopter which Buhari has mandated NASENI to produce.
Others are as follows establishment of First Made-In- Nigeria Transformer Plant and High Voltage Testing Laboratory to be located in Okene. Kogi State; first Made-In-Nigeria Plant for the manufacturing of Silica which is the major materials needed for local manufacturing of solar panels to resolve alternative/Renewable Energy supply for the nation; and funding of the plant for First Made-In-Nigeria Smart Prepaid Energy Meter, SPEM, which is already patented, before transferring them to private sector entrepreneurs as stipulated by its mandate.
Also included are establishment of Zonal (Six geo-political Zones) Agricultural Machinery & Equipment Development Institutes which had already been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari; completion of work on First Made-in-Nigeria E-Voting solutions designed and produced by Nigerian Engineers in NASENI; and completion of work on Reverse Engineering process of 5 Kilowatt small Hydro Kinetic Turbine.
A document, which explained how the decision to implement NASENI Act was taken by the President, read: “The President is the chairman of the Governing Board of NASENI. But the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, in his memo to the Governing Board on December 30, 2020, requested the implementations of the Statutory funding of the agency as provided for in NASENI Act to finance its projects and activities.
“While reflecting on the state of Nigeria’s response so far on the COVID-19 pandemic during a virtual meeting at the Presidential Villa on January 26th, 2021, the President observed that Nigeria’s continued reliance on solutions from other countries was a revelation of the research and development gap in the nation.
“He, in addition, therefore directed NASENI to scale up its responses to the pandemic in order to find appropriate solutions to prevent the further spread and treatment of the virus.
“Sitting as the Chair of the Board, the President stressed that for NASENI to succeed, it must be empowered through adequate provision of financial, human and material resources and allowed to exercise independence to forge partnerships.’’