Jonathan said this during the inauguration of a three-metre locally-built warship of the Nigerian Navy, NNS Andoni, to mark the 56th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy in Lagos.
He added that Nigeria’s initial failure to embrace technology had contributed to the collapse of the firms.
He said, “Today, I am particularly pleased because Nigeria at independence had Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Shipping Line and some other investments and they were doing well. But because there was no indigenous touch and we refused to embrace technology then, they all died.
“We are told that some countries that were at the same level with us have built aircraft, choppers and so on. With the current repositioning of the country, we recommend the Nigerian content even in the oil industry. Already, a number of things are now being fabricated locally.
“I was in Lagos recently to inaugurate one of such; equipment for drilling and marine are currently being built locally. This is the beginning of transformation. There cannot be transformation without a technological revolution in the nation; this is the beginning.
“I believe that in another 15 to 20 years, we should be thinking about starting a project that will take Nigerians into the air.”
The President said he was convinced that the nation was blessed with intelligent people, who could drive the needed transformation.
This, he said, informed his administration’s decision to introduce a special scholarship scheme for first class graduates in Nigeria. This will allow them to enjoy more studies in any of the top 20 universities in the world.
He said he might extend the scope of the programme to include brilliant products of the Nigeria Defence Academy.
He reiterated his position that if the nation must get out of the woods, it must stop the importation of some items.
“We cannot continue to import everything. We must take advantage of the large market that we have. What we consume alone is enough to sustain an industry,” he said.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim, described the building of the ship as a landmark for the Nigerian Navy. He said it was a result of diversified researches.
Ibrahim described the feat as the navy’s contribution to the transformation agenda of Jonathan.
He said the ship was built in compliance with the International Maritime Organisation’s standard, adding that it would be used in combating security challenges on the nation’s waterways.
“It is a testimony to our commitment to local content regime. We will not disappointment the nation,” he said.
Ibrahim promised that in the next 18 months, the second locally-built ship, whose keel was laid by the President, would be inaugurated.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said the building of the ship demonstrated the operational readiness and professionalism of the Nigerian Navy. He thus solicited the support of Nigerians for the Armed Forces.