Nigeria must take science extra critically

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Nigerians voted to elect a brand new president on 25 February and he might be sworn in on 29 Could 2023. One in all his obligations have to be to guide the nation in taking science extra critically. Science must be the fulcrum of Nigeria’s growth.

As a fellow and previous president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, the umbrella physique of Nigeria’s main scientists, I supply the next ideas for Nigeria’s new president:

Enhance funding for scientific analysis

Nigeria has proven a deep neglect of science. Science and expertise are critically underfunded and minimally utilized in nationwide growth. For instance oil refineries are shut down and Nigeria can’t produce vaccines domestically, having stopped in 1991.

The primary time Nigeria had a Ministry of Science and Expertise was in 1980, 20 years after independence. The primary nationwide science and expertise coverage was produced in 1986, six years later.

In the course of the first 20 years of the ministry, it had 10 ministers, every with a special agenda and coverage.

Nigeria’s first actual try at funding public analysis was in 2006, when the federal government deliberate to create a US$5 billion endowment fund for science and expertise. However the political will to do that wilted within the face of a scarcity of dedication of funds to execute the proposal. Since then, funding science and analysis in Nigeria has been as erratic and unpredictable because the political adjustments.

An try was made in 2012 to revive the fund with an impartial board, headed by President Goodluck Jonathan himself. However when he left workplace in 2015 there was nonetheless no fund.

In 2016, the federal authorities introduced a N3 billion (US$6.5 million) Nationwide Analysis Fund. A committee to handle it was solely arrange 17 months later.

Regardless of the promise of the Buhari authorities in 2021 to dedicate 0.5% of GDP to analysis and innovation, the budgetary allocation to the related ministry remained abysmally low at 0.14% of GDP in 2022. This was about the identical degree for the earlier years – 0.13% and 0.14% for 2020 and 2021.

If Nigeria is to learn from science and analysis, and harness expertise and innovation to remodel the economic system and enhance the social well-being of residents, then the nation should cease enjoying lip service to funding science and analysis actions.

The brand new authorities should quickly harness science, expertise and innovation as instruments for nationwide growth. For instance, the nation may gain advantage from the event of photo voltaic power to enhance and stabilise the erratic electrical provide, and from genomic research to develop new therapeutics and vaccines for improved well being and elevated animal manufacturing.

Nigeria should enhance the budgetary allocation to fund science and analysis yearly from the present 0.14% of GDP to no less than 1% within the subsequent 4 years.

It should additionally broaden the scope and funding capability of the Tertiary Training Belief Fund to sustainably fund long run interdisciplinary analysis directed at fixing Nigeria’s well being, setting and different developmental challenges.

The brand new president should additionally see to it that the proposal to ascertain the Nigeria Nationwide Analysis and Growth Basis is realised earlier than the tip of his first 12 months in workplace. Not a lot has been heard about this proposal these days.

Retain the capability that’s constructed

The brand new president should recognise the necessity to prioritise capability retention over capability constructing. This must be by creating and sustaining a scientific and analysis setting that permits our extremely skilled workforce to conduct analysis actions productively and with relevance.

Too lots of Nigeria’s scientists go away the nation due to lack of employment alternatives, socio-cultural points, poor remuneration and non-attainment {of professional} fulfilment. As an example, 9 out of 10 medical and dental consultants with lower than 5 years of expertise deliberate to depart Nigeria as at December 2022. Equally, 57,000 nurses left Nigeria between 2017 and 2022 leaving a ratio of 1 nurse to 1,660 sufferers, primarily based on the inhabitants. Software program engineers are leaving too.

The analysis setting will be improved by simpler entry to overseas trade and lowered importation costs for imported analysis gear, provides and reagents. Analysis additionally requires a secure electrical energy provide. Electrical energy manufacturing in Nigeria reached 7,637 GWh in June 2022, for a inhabitants of 219 million. For comparability, South Africa’s electrical energy manufacturing reached 17,536 GWh in December 2022, for a inhabitants of 61 million.

Appoint a chief scientific adviser

As a matter of urgency, the president should appoint a chief scientific adviser charged with coordinating all science and analysis actions for the financial growth of the nation and social well-being of residents.

Presently, science and analysis actions are scattered amongst completely different ministries and parastatals working in silos, finishing up uncoordinated work of little relevance to nationwide growth. The adviser to the president would help in bringing all these collectively to make sure related focus and to cut back duplication and wastage of sources.

Begin producing vaccines domestically

The brand new president should think about native vaccine manufacturing as a nationwide well being safety difficulty. He should guarantee native vaccine manufacturing begins throughout the first two years in workplace. This may cut back expensive dependence on foreigners for the nation’s vaccine wants and safeguard nationwide well being safety. Presently Nigeria produces no vaccines however a manufacturing plant is scheduled to start manufacturing in 2024.

Learn extra:
What it is going to take to supply vaccines in Nigeria: cash’s simply step one



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