Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has urged researchers in universities to target their research towards national needs in order to fast-track development in the country.
Governor Ikpeazu said this, in Nsukka, on Monday, during the 14th Eni Njoku memorial lecture.
He said researchers should link their research on the need of the people so as to stop the country to further being a dumping ground for goods produced in other countries.
His words, “It baffles me that we import Swedish bitters from Sweden and yo-yo bitters from Ghana, does it mean that researchers in the country can not produce bitters for Nigerians.
“Must the country import every thing from abroad.
He commended the late Eni Njoku who used his knowledge to solve some national problems through his research work.
“we are celebrating Eni Njoku because he used his intellectual and research to solve problems as well as contribute to national development.
“I commend department of Biological science University of Nigeria Nsukka and family of Eni Njoku for the sustainace of the memorial lecture in honour of the scientist and intellectual icon, ” he said.
Also in a keynote address, Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, described research in Nigeria as ‘poorly funded’ by grant-awarding bodies in Nigeria.
She said that the situation alongside lack of research policies have affected access to international grants when the applications are made and called for institution of seed grants by universities and faculties in the country.
Prof. Adeyeye made this known her titled “Science and Science Policy for National Development” at the 14th Eni Njoku Memorial Lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
According to her, “Nigeria spends too low on Science, Technology and Innovation and this affects research and development. There is no national grant making body by the government. This means that Nigerian researchers are deprived of accessing international grants. There is need for seed grants for the university and faculty. This has also affected our research meeting international best practices and competitiveness.
There is also lack of emphasis on soft skills in schools curricular like communication skills, management and business skills, negotiation skills and emotional intelligence because they all help in research endeavors. This is why countries like South Africa and Egypt are topping us in research outputs. In other words, research outputs in Nigeria are not consistent with the number of professors and PhDs.
She further said that researches in Nigeria are done just to get promoted and personal goals without resulting to translational outputs which will helps in solving national needs and that of the of the society.
She called for devoted interests and advancements in research on herbal medicine and natural resources which are in abundance in the country. “We need to explore researches on herbal medicine. For some years now, I have been working on herbal product for the treatment of sickle cell anaemia. It is important we concentrate on this field because it will make our lives much better,” she said.
She called for enhanced policies on research for national development and ensure funding for interested researchers.
“No nation can develop without research. There’s need for research funding by government and grant making bodies, and strong policies for science and research in other to meet the needs of the society. Sensitization for research development in nation building to revise our graduate education curriculum to include soft skills are very important.
Universities should also foster international collaboration with industry and policy makers, academic among others. We need to encourage diversity in student and faculties. All these actions will help in stopping the brain drain syndrome we are currently facing today, she noted.
Also in his lecture, titled “Intellectuals as Critical Stakeholders in National Building” Sen. Hope Uzodinma noted, “Nigerian intellectual are not lazy. They are up and about, doing their best in climate of scarce resources and sundry deprivation.
“I regret to observe that the raging wind and tempest of ethnicity is gathering once more and the clouds are darkening. On major national issues such as restructuring, and the Presidency, our intellectuals appear again to be reclaiming to their ethnic enclaves.
However, Sen. Uzodinma expressed confidence that our custodians of reason and dispassion, our intellectuals will ultimately rise to the challenge and save our nation from a drift that may be more catastrophic than the first.
Earlier in his address, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Benjamin Ozumba said the lecture was in honour of Eni Njoku for his contributions to learning in the institution even as a male hostel and an academic building in the Faculty of Biological Sciences in the institution were named after him.
Prof. Njoku died in 1974 and was former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos in 1962 before becoming a Vice Chancellor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1966.