The vice president of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Prof. Abubakar Sambo, has said research plays a crucial role in creating opportunities for individuals to enrich their lives and careers.
In his speech at the opening ceremony of the 11th year International Conference and Assembly of the Nigerian Young Academy (NYA) with the theme, ‘Linking academic research, industry and policy engagement amidst COVID-19 pandemic’ today (August 24) in Abuja, he said research provides the skills needed for economic competitiveness.
“Research in higher education institutions drives the innovation our economies need. The jobs of the future depend on the innovation that university research facilitates and promotes. The jobs of the future depend on Nigeria doing a better job than we currently do of linking industry with research, and of turning our large-scale and very high-quality research outputs into positive benefits in people’s lives, including through commercialization. There should be strong linkages between industry and the higher education system, both in courses offered and in research and development leading to commercialization,” he said.
He lamented that despite many undoubted top-quality components and people, Nigeria is not seen as an African leading centre of research excellence in engineering, ICT and agriculture, adding the nation was seen as running behind, and not a major player on the world stage.
“To my mind, a relentless, determined commitment to adding value by breaking down the barriers to effective partnering and collaboration has been the missing link. We have to find a different way of working together, through committed and determined collaboration in top-quality academic-industry partnerships,” he stated.
Sambo called for a realignment of the academic worlds to bridging many gaps in research in order to keep up with the shifting landscape of global development.
He averred that the COVID-19 pandemic created many opportunities which NYA should plan to leverage much larger sums from industry, philanthropy, government and grant funding agencies and to achieve a greater result.
The financial commitment from industries, funding research partners have been powerful in encouraging academics to work together across geographical, disciplinary and institutional boundaries, he added.
Earlier the NAS president, Prof. Ekanem Braide, in her opening address, appreciated the Nigerian Academy for untiring effort in uplifting the quality of researches among early-career researchers and contributing significantly to national development.
In his remarks, the NYA president, Dr. Abiodun Egbetokun, explained the academy is a unified platform for interaction among young researchers in various disciplines below the age of 45 in Nigeria.
According to him, the multidisciplinary composition of the NYA and the quality of its members makes it a strategic stakeholder in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa.
This, according to him, was reflected in this years conference theme. He added that the conference was supported with funding from the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund.
Highlight of the event was the induction of 18 distinguished early-career scholars as members of the Nigeria Young Academy. They are Drs. Ben Enagbonma, Gabriel Anyanwu, Samson Olaniyi, Franklin Kenechukwu, Kingsley Ukhurebor, AbdulAzeez Anjorin, Oluwatoyin Fatunsin, Oluwakemi Rotimi and Isah Mohammed. Other new members include Drs. Zaharaddeen Garba, Isaac Animasaun, Nuraddeen Garba, Olaide Wahab, OlugbemiOlaniyan, Ibukun Adesiyan, Chukwuebuka Umeyor, Owolabi Bnakole and Olufunso Abosede.
Five young researchers were also honoured with prize awards at the event for their outstanding contributions to knowledge. Dr Cynthia Ibeto won the Prof. Kayode Adebowale National Young Scientists Prize for Women in Chemical Sciences while Dr Collins Ibeji won the Prof. Kayode Adebowale National Young Scientists Prize in Chemical Sciences. Others are winners of Prof. Hilary Inyang National Young Scientists Prize in Geoenvironmental Sciences – Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma, Prof. Friday Okonofua, National Young Scientists Prize in Health Sciences – Dr Oluwafemi Kale and Prof. Olurotimi Taiwo, National Young Researchers Prize in Linguistics – Dr Omotayo Olalere.
Four members of the Nigerian Young Academy, after five years of service to the academy were decorated as fellows of the academy. They include Dr Foluke Unuabonah, Temitope Odetoye, Sikiru Sanusi and Matthew Omoruyi.