May 25, 2024
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‘The science prize seeks answers to development questions that trigger economic growth, development’

anote
  • May 11, 2024
  • 7 min read
‘The science prize seeks answers to development questions that trigger economic growth, development’

* The Nigeria Prize for Science records 53% surge in entries for 2024 circle

By Anote Ajeluorou

THE Nigeria Prize for Science will remain a significant part of Nigeria’s national conversation on the country’s socio-economic growth and development based on the research outcomes of the yearly prize. This much was said by the Advisory Board Chairman of the science, Prof. Barth Nnaji at the handover ceremony of entries for the 2024 prize circle in Lagos on May 9, 2024, where he said, “We are proud to be associated with this prize that seeks answers to development questions that provide our leaders with solutions that will trigger economic growth and development.”

While addressing newsmen at the ceremony, Prof. Nnaji said the theme for this year’s science prize was apt given the global emergency climate change conversation has assumed, especially coming in the heels of COP 28 global conference on climate change last year. He noted that home-grown solutions that focus on the Nigerian situation on flooding and desertification among others needed to be sought urgently, which he said informed the theme.

Other members of the Advisory Board are a two-time minister and former President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief (Dr.) Nike Akande and a professor of Animal Breeding and Quantitative Genetics and Coordinator of Agriculture Group, R & D Standing Committee at Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Yusuf Abubakar.

The Advisory Board then announced that 153 entries were received for the 2024 cycle of The Nigeria Prize for Science, attaining a 53% increase over last year and a 20-year high record. The number of entries was revealed at the ceremony to hand over the entries to judges for the commencement of the adjudication process.

“The theme for this year is ‘Innovations and Technologies for Reducing the Effect of Climate Change’ based on the global and crucial conversation in search of solutions of climate change,” said the professor of Robotics and CEO of innovative Geometrics Power Station in Aba, Abia State, Nnaji, adding, “As you well know, climate change has great effects on all of us, especially the erratic weather that has claimed lives and assets in many parts of the world. Here at home, we are faced with adverse flooding situations and the threats of encroachment of desertification. And I think all of us were aware of COP 28 in which our country actively participated in.”

However, Prof. Nnaji said the identity of the science prize judges was being kept a secret to enhance the peer review mechanism associated with such endeavours and for fear of possible compromise. He noted that for the science prize, it’s usually through a peer review mechanism that also shield those reviewing the research outcomes from being made known to the researchers. He, however, assured that the judges selected are top notch and would deliver excellent verdict. He also noted that like in past editions, the science prize may not be awarded if the 153 entries fail to show sufficient scientific depth and excellence in relation to this year’s theme, adding that the excellence for which the prize has been known in its 19th circle would not be compromised.

“The judges for this year have been carefully selected to help us in providing the best solutions through the competition,” Prof. Nnaji said. “We look forward to a competition strictly based on excellence and merit. We thank the Nigeria LNG for your support, as the prize enters its 20th year of competition 2024. We are proud to be associated with this prize that seeks answers to development questions that provide our leaders with solutions that will trigger economic growth and development.”

Prof. Nnaji also said although the prize is a global one open to researchers from across the globe, however the solutions the research outcome provide must have bearing on Nigeria’s socio-economic situation otherwise it becomes nullified.

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Nigeria LNG’s General Manager for External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mr. Andy Odeh (2nd right) handing over 2024 science prize entries to Prof. Barth Nnaji (2nd left) while Prof. Yusuf Abubakar (left) and Chief (Dr.) Nike Akande (right) look on… in Lagos

A member of the Advisory Board, Chief (Dr.) Nike Akande stated how she narrowly escaped a recent climate situation in Dubai, where she was a guest at a conference, noting that she’d barely left when a massive flooding overtook the city where the conference was held. This, she said, was to underscore the significance of the global effects of climate change that this year’s prize is focused on. She also expressed appreciation no the outcome of the prize last year where Prof. Hippolite Amadi’s winning research result, ’Innovation for Enhancement of Healthcare Therapy’ aimed at saving the lives of neonates by making the delivery of oxygen cheap and easy saved the life of a relative’s child.

A former Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria and member of Advisory Board of The Nigeria Prize for Science, Prof. Yusuf Abubakar, said Nigeria LNG was bridging the gap between researchers and societal needs by making research outcomes available for society’s use.

“What Nigeria LNG is doing is to reward research and innovations in science. I was the Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, the challenges the institute had was how to secure research results,” he said. “We discovered that there were many researches that had been done, but they remained in the drawers of the researchers. And what Nigeria LNG is doing is to bring such research results to industries in terms of impact and scale. So I think what Nigeria LNG is doing is really impacting society.”

The entries came through the prize secretariat which is managed by the sponsor of the prize, Nigeria LNG Limited, with its General Manager for External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mr. Andy Odeh, handing over the entries to the prize’s Advisory Board chair, Prof. Nnaji to mark a major milestone in the prize cycle.

This year, the competing scientists will vie for recognition under the theme ‘Innovations and Technologies for Reducing the Effect of Climate Change’, a choice reflecting the urgency of addressing environmental challenges currently plaguing mankind. Mr. Odeh underscored the importance of this year’s theme, emphasising that combating climate change is not only vital for Nigeria’s future but also essential for the survival of humanity.

“You can agree with me that the theme of this year’s prize will be of unquantifiable monetary value to the nation as you know that climate change, arising from green gas emission, remains a major setback to development of human,” Odeh said.

He stated further that 2024 was a special year for both The Nigeria Prize for Science and its sister prize, The Nigeria Prize for Literature, as the prizes celebrate their 20 years of existence. Mr. Andy emphasised that The Nigeria Prize for Science was an annual prize aimed at stimulating the advancement and application of science and technology, adding that the quest for a prestigious prize in science is expected to improve science and technology in Nigeria, resolve issues that are germane to development of the country and help improve the standards of living.

As the world grapples with escalating climate crisis, initiatives like The Nigeria Prize for Science play a crucial role in driving innovation and fostering solutions to mitigate environmental degradation. The increased participation in this year’s cycle signals a growing recognition of the imperative to address climate change through scientific ingenuity and collaborative efforts.

The Nigeria Prize for Science is arguably the most prestigious science prize in Africa and one of NLNG’s biggest social investment projects.

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