From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A university don, Prof Stephen Onah, has called on the federal government to make policies and laws that will compel industries and multinationals, as well as some government organisations to establish functional research and development departments or units to be able to utilise the needed expertise in mathematics and similar disciplines.
Onah said if this is done, job opportunities would be higher and organisations would be less dependent on foreign expertise for their innovations and development needs.
The Professor of Mathematics made the call while delivering his inaugural lecture titled “The Reality Show of Mathematics” at the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM) on Wednesday.
He added that if Nigeria must be relevant in the increasingly competitive and knowledge-driven world, there is a need to engage in dialogue that seeks to evaluate and elevate the status of the scientific and technological enterprise within the universities and outside environments.
When we take a look at courses in the universities that are heavily subscribed to at the undergraduate level, it will be observed that mathematics is at the lower rung of the ladder,’ he said.
‘It has also been found that the most influencing factors for a choice of course at the university level are job prospects and opportunities.
‘It is for this reason that I will re-echo my earlier calls that a situation where graduates of Mathematics in Nigeria largely find favour in the classrooms must be reversed,’ Onah stated.
Onah appealed to the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Richard Kimbir, and other mathematician Vice Chancellors of universities across the country to use their positions to ensure that the right calibre of staff are employed in the department of mathematics during their tenure.
He further enjoined the federal and state governments to invest hugely in education, particularly at the university level, stressing that it was the only way the generation of intellectual promise of homegrown solutions to Nigeria’s peculiar problems can be guaranteed.