A Nigerian professor of pharmacology, Isa Hussaini Marte, has urged the Nigerian government and relevant stakeholders to prioritise Science research in order to bring about development.
“Science is what develops the whole world” he said.
Marte made the statement, Monday night in Abuja at the launch of African Science and Literacy Network, ASLN and the opening ceremony of its workshop where he delivered the key note address titled “Science as driver of development: The importance of communication”.
He said that any country that does not prioritise research and development is “doomed to fail” as “countries that are forging ahead; talk science eat, science and breathe science” which he noted is not the case in Nigeria.
He said “We have universities where most of the lecturers are just teachers they don’t do research, they don’t have their own laboratory.”
He added that “for us to start talking of science and research in Africa we have to sit down and be honest to ourselves. We have to pump money into research”
“If we want to do research somebody must come out with the money and the first place is the government, then private sector” he explained.
The Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, who chaired the occasion said that his state has made Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM a priority area.
The Governor who was represented by his Special Adviser on legal matters, Barr. Ahmed Mustafa Goniri, said that “Everything done here [ASLN workshop] will go a long way in impacting science.”
The lead orginiser of the workshop, Dr Mahmoud Bukar Maina noted that with better support for science and with better scientific communication, “we will be able to take Africa o the next level”
He said that he is aware of the high level of cultural and religious misconceptions about science in Nigeria and he believes that a partnership between scientists and journalists which the workshop seeks to achieve will help in tackling the problem.
He added that he hopes the ASLN Fellows will lead the way in promoting science in Africa as “Science covers everything – understanding who we are as humans, boosting the economy – Science directly and indirectly impact on our lives”.
During a panel discussing chaired by Dr Katy Petherick from the Univesrity of Sussex, The Editor – in – Chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, Mannir Dan Ali, urged scientists to reach out to journalists in communicating their work as well as explaining phenomenon.
Mannir who was represented by Daily Trust Managing Editor, Nasir Lawal, said politicians, lawyers have been able to make use of the journalism profession in Nigeria despite all its challenges.
He cited an example of how lawyers reach out to journalists to explain and give interpretations any time there is a court judgment and ruling.
He said that it is quite unfortunate that journalist write report with phrases like “mysterious illness” or “strange disease” because the scientists are not readily available to explain the phenomenon to them.
Other panelists include Prof. Theresa Ekanem, the president of Anatomical Society of Nigeria, and Dr. Bitrus Bako Nabasu, permanent secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, represented by Dr. Rose Maxwell Gidado, a deputy director at the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology.
TReND in Africa, is the lead organizer of the two-day “Science communication and journalism workshop”. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust under its public engagement grants to boost engagement on science across Africa.
Over 74 Journalists and scientists will be inducted as ASLN fellows at the end of the workshop.