…Minister calls for synergy between varsities, industrialists
By Franklin Onwubiko and Dimson Chukwuemeka
Nigerian universities have the intellectual resources to take the nation to a higher level. The quality of research products exhibited at the just concluded sixth Nigerian Universities Research and Development Fair (NURESDEF), hosted by Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (UNIZIK), proved that development in science and technology is moving at a reasonable pace.
The exhibition had about 50 universities across the country in participation. The research projects from the various universities kept visitors in awe. The scintillating performances of Theatre and Performing Arts and Music department of the host university added glamour to the epoch event. The exhibition spread across life sciences and medicine, agriculture and veterinary medicine, science, technology, arts and humanities.
Declaring the exhibition open, the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, charged universities to take the lead in the quest for the diversification of the nation’s economy by pursuing research and innovations that would move the nation forward.
“Government has declared the urgent need for diversification of the economy, the momentum is expected of the universities”, he said. He noted that universities should create ways for the commercialization of their research products and services. He further added that manufacturers and industrialists should be engaged in the research exhibition, as this would bridge the gap between researchers and manufacturers who might be interested in new research products.
Prof. Anwuka assured the universities of the support of the federal Ministry of Education, as he stressed the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari- led administration to education as seen in the budget where the sector took a major chunk.
Lending credence to what Prof. Anwuka said, his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Prof. Ogbonnaya Onu attributed Nigeria’s lack of development to failure in commercializing research outputs.
Onu, who was represented by Dr. Charles Agulanna, stated that for Nigeria to achieve effective commercialization of research products, there is need for rapid technological innovations, effective strategy management of knowledge and clear focus on value, in addition to raw materials, goods and services through sustainable industrial outfits.
Also speaking, the secretary, Committee of Vice Chancellors, Prof. Micheal Faborode, commended the participating universities for attaching importance to research. He advised them to patent their research work and find ways to commercialize them instead of allowing these innovations to remain moribund in their respective institutions. He called for a collaboration between the universities and the manufacturers and industrialist to help in the marketing of research ideas and projects. He expressed optimism that Nigeria can develop with the level and quality of innovations from universities.
The representative of National Universities Commission (NUC) and Director, Research and Innovation of the commission, Dr. Suleiman Ramon Yusuf commended the vice chancellor of the host university, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku for hosting the research fair. He expressed satisfaction with the massive turn up of universities at the event even at short notice. He expressed satisfaction at the display of quality research products describing the exhibition as very successful.
The director commended UNIZIK administration for her role in encouraging industrialists to interact with the students occasionally, stating that this inspires students to focus on their studies with a view to becoming great or even greater than the industrialists who interact with them. He said the entrepreneurial drive of the Ahaneku-led administration would lead Unizik on the path of becoming a leading entrepreneurial university in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the host, Prof Ahaneku, expressed delight on the smooth conduct of the research exhibition and the level of participation among Nigerian universities and the NUC. He emphasized the need for greater thrust to be ascribed to research in local universities. According to him, research rather than academic content delivery distinguishes universities from other tiers of tertiary institutions.
Prof. Ahaneku bemoaned the lack of linkage between Nigerian universities where considerable research findings abound and the industries. According to him, this raises the urgent need of moving beyond basic research and applied research and development or innovation.
He called on academics and researchers to brace up to the enormous task of national development, noting that untapped talents abound in the universities. He advised universities to create research and innovative units to aid and enhance research, urging researchers to seek ways of partnering with industrialists.
University of Uyo emerged the overall best while Unizik and Federal University of Technology, Minna emerged the second runner-ups respectively in the exhibition.