By Bimbola Oyesola
The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has berated the Federal Government over the nonchalant disposition towards efforts at sponsoring research on COVID-19 vaccines.
The union said, in spite of calls on the Federal Government to sponsor research on COVID-19 vaccines, not much had been done to look for solutions in terms of medicines and vaccines.
ASURI’s secretary general, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku, expressed some concern during a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, on Wednesday. He said, “We are saying this is the era of vaccines; the problem is that there are variants.
“Assuming a variant of COVID-19 came to Nigeria that is not responding to these foreign vaccines and we are not prepared and we do not have capacity to produce vaccines, what are we going to do? So, why can we not build capacity, especially when we have found we have the capacity?
“That is why we are at NIMR; we came to look at the facilities they have and confirm they have the capacity to produce locally made vaccines.”
He explained that the union would also visit other research institutions that are building capacity and then write to the government.
He said NIMR had become a model research institution for other institutions to emulate and urged the Nigerian government to focus on funding the institute.
“NIMR has gone ahead without funding, bugetary allocation, getting grants from outside the country to become a model research institution; we have the infrastructure, “ Ndubuaku said.
The secretary general equally appealed to the National Assembly to pass the National Research Innovation Bill and ensure that the Presidency assents to it.
Ndubuaku said it had become more imperative for the bill to be passed again in order to tackle the challenges of unemployment, inflation, and insecurity facing the country.
He said, “During the 8th Assembly, when effort was made to pass the bill the first and second time, things had not deteriorated to the level of unemployment, inflation, and insecurity facing the country.
“So, it is even more imperative that the National Assembly revisit the bill, pass it again and ensure that the Presidency assents to it.”
The secretary general said that the NRIC bill was instrumental, not just to funding, but coordinating research as well, adding that once there was funding for research, Nigeria would be able to convert natural resources to wealth. Ndubuaku stated further that there would be improved technology for industrial production, and employment all over the country.