Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, has explained why his administration is focusing on development of skills acquisition through establishment of colleges of science and technical education in every local government area of the state.

Governor. Diri, said there was a real need to change the narrative on unemployment in the state in the light of an increasingly digitalised global economy.

The governor stated this at the Local Content Tower in Yenagoa on Tuesday during the grand finale of the Nigerian Content Science and Technology Innovation Challenge (STIC).

A press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as noting that the state government had adopted an educational curriculum that has shifted emphasis from certificate education to science and technology-based skills as no society could develop beyond its level of education.

He called for collaboration with the NCDMB and other stakeholders to ensure that science and technology was given premium in the educational sector.

He commended the NCDMB management and its partners for introducing the challenge to build the capacity of young Nigerians in science and technology, noting that the programme was in line with the board’s mandate to bridge the technology and manpower needs in the oil and gas industry.

His words: “The current management of the board has not left anyone in doubt as to its commitment in fulfilling its mandate of producing a new set of engineers, scientists and technologists to fill the local content demand of our country.

“We are aware that progressively Nigerians are getting more involved in the production of oil and gas. To my mind, this innovation challenge is to inspire young scientists to achieve greater things.”

According to the governor, science and technology has provided a huge buffer for societal growth and Nigeria must take deliberate steps in ensuring technological advancement in all spheres of life.

While congratulating the winners and participants in the STIC, he challenged the management of the state tertiary institutions and students to be among the top participants in the next edition.

Governor. Diri, also pointed out that 60 per cent of the liquefied natural gas project located in Rivers state was being procured from Bayelsa, which he said was the hub of gas resources in the country and that the state needed to be carried along.

In his address, the NCDMB Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, said the Nigerian Content Science, Technology and Innovation Challenge was one of its various interventions to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.

Engr. Wabote explained that the STIC in partnership with Enactus Nigeria Limited was at the grand finale stage with over 170 public and private universities in Nigeria participating.

He said the programme was targeted at students of accredited tertiary institutions to apply science, technology and Innovation to finding homegrown solutions to everyday problems across all sectors of the economy.

The challenge, he also stated, was aimed at engaging, developing, showcasing, supporting and rewarding deserving students, lecturers and universities that excelled in the challenge.

The Country Director, Enactus Nigeria, Mr. Michael Ajayi, described the challenge as a unique opportunity to create entrepreneurs while reducing the unemployment rate and supporting the economic advancement of the country.

Goodwill messages were delivered virtually by the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan and the Deputy Political and Economic Chief, State Department, United States Consulate, Lagos, Merrica Heaton.