How Neglect of Science Underdeveloped Nigeria–Tomori

A Veterinarian Virologist and President, Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has lamented the neglect of science and misapplication of technology by Nigeria, a situation which he said has led to the under-development of the country in the last 50 years.

Prof. Tomori made this observation last Wednesday (May 14, 2014), while delivering a lecture  at the 10th Mosobalaje Oyawoye Faculty of Science Endowed Lecture at the University Auditorium.

In his paper, entitled “Scientific and Technological Transformation of Nigeria: Role of Tertiary Institutions”, the Guest Lecturer explained that “in the last 50 years, we have neglected science, we have misapplied technology and banished it from our shores and therefore ended up truncating our own development.”   

Prof. Tomori, who also is a former Vice-Chancellor of the Redeemers University, Mowe,  Ogun State, charged tertiary institutions in the country to help “lift our nation from the “dreg de la dreg” of humanity, to the “crème de la crème” of developed and advanced nations.”

The Guest Lecturer explained that Nigeria is not lacking in the formulation of policies for development but decried the absence of strong political will and commitment on the part of the government in developing and implementing a sound national science and technology policy, which has led to the frequent dissolution and re-emergence of the Ministry.

He said, “Science, if it is rightly pursued and wisely applied, should impact positively on our everyday life; at work, at home, on the road, wherever we are, even when we are asleep. We should take advantage of Science and Technology innovations in energy, communications, and information technology. Society expects scientists to transform elegant theories of development into practical solutions for daily needs.” 

The don pointed out that strong political will and committed leadership are the basis for achieving Science and Technology policy objectives, saying “we have failed in those ones” but stressed that, where the government has failed, there is no way the private sector will participate in the quest for research and development.

Prof. Tomori, who admitted that the government has tried through the intervention of the Education Trust Fund (ETF), the Science and Technology Education at the Post Basic Project (STEP-B), the Tertiary Education Training Fund (TETFund) and others, pointed out that the success is hampered by poor basic infrastructure, electricity, reagents equipment, supplies, poor supervision and inadequate monitoring and evaluation among other challenges.

In another paper entitled “Revitalising Education in Nigeria: The Osun Example”, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, urged  governments at all levels to commit themselves to making education a priority and funding it richly, saying that, “perfunctory measures kill education and bastardises its standards.”

The governor, who was represented at the event by his Senior Special Assistant on Innovation, Science and Technology, Mr. Azeez Adekunle Ajayi, said, “this is why the half-hearted commitment of government beginning from the centre to the local areas must be done away with.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, who is the Chairman of the event, said that “Africa is lagging behind in the global research race and we must accelerate our pace in order to reduce, and even, close the gap between us and the rest of the world.”

Prof. Ambali, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (RTI), Prof. Felix Oladele, pointed out that “to achieve the lofty objectives of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government, it goes without saying that the quantum of research in our tertiary institutions has to be improved upon through the creation of an enabling socio-political environment and provision of appropriate funding and incentives.”

The Vice-Chancellor however called on the Federal Government and the striking polytechnic lecturers to close ranks and end the on-going strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) which began in October last year and save the future of the students who have been rendered idle and thus vulnerable to anti-social behaviours as a result of the lingering impasse.

In his address, the Endower of the Lecture, Prof. Muhammad-Jamiu Mosobalaje Oyawoye, lamented the declining educational standards in Nigeria, saying that all advice and expertise is needed to fix it.

While commending the efforts of the Organising Committee headed by Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, the octogenarian Professor of Geology, who was represented by his son, Prince AbdulGaniyu ‘Kitibi Oyawoye, said he had supported the lecture series to date with over N10 million.

In his remarks, the Dean of Physical Sciences, Prof. B.L. Adeleke, who also spoke on behalf of the Dean, Life Sciences, Prof. Alhassan Sanni, appreciated Prof. Oyawoye and the management of the University for their tremendous support for the 10th Mosobalaje Lecture.