November 10, 2018

World Science Day: Scientists call for research, infrastructure development

Students in a library

As the world celebrates World Science Day for Peace and Development on Saturday, Nov. 10, as adopted by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), scientists urged government at all levels to focus on Research and Development for the growth of the science and technology sector.

Students in a library

The scientists made the call in separate interviews with newsmen in commemoration of the day in Abuja.

World Science Day for Peace and Development, marked annually on Nov. 10 was adopted by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2001.

The day was set aside to highlight the important role that science has in the society and the need to engage wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Science, a Human Right”.

The day is marked to drum up support for increased research in science and technology, as well as educate the world on the importance of applying findings to achieve development around the globe.

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Dr Spencer Onu, the Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) said that science and technology were the keys to developing any nation.

He said that “Nigeria is not there yet in terms of developing Science and Technology because we need increased and serious funding to develop the sector”.

Onu, however, recognised that with President Muhammadu Buhari, and the leadership of the science ministry, science budget had relatively increased, adding that it was a ray of hope.

He added that “for the first time in the science sector, budget for the sector has increased, meaning that this administration understands the capability of the sector.

“We can do more in terms of investing in science and technology infrastructure for better development.”

The scientist identified that with the use of science and technology, especially space satellite technology, conflicts could been monitored and that had given the government credence to mitigate in such situations.

“Through satellite images, crisis, movement of troops have been detected, thereby ensuring the safe relocation of people and the protection of properties,” Onu said.

Dr Daniel Okoh, the Coordinator, Space Environment Lab, Centre for Atmospheric Research, said that with the dynamics of science and technology, major cities of the country should have been under surveillance to mitigate incidences of crime.

Okoh said “the level of science and technology application is backward in Nigeria because by now, we should have had cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt under surveillance.

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“If criminals know that surveillance cameras are watching them, they will conduct themselves and when they are not aware of it, footage from the cameras can be used to detect crime.

“The Ministry of Science and Technology should focus more on Research and Development (R&D) and as well adopt the application of products from researches,” he added.

He explained that the application of science and technology with reference to communication technology over the years had been used to reduce tension.

“In 2015 after the general elections and results were called, former President Goodluck Jonathan put a call through to President Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him.

“With that singular act, he calmed a lot of tension that was already building up in the country and for the maintenance of peace,” Okoh said.

According to him, deploying science and technology can increase crop yield, develop irrigation farming and ensuring food security.

He said that if food production was not measuring up to the high population of the country, people would have to fight over having food to eat, but irrigation farming had mitigated that.

Prof. Falaiye Oluwasesan, the Head of Physics Department, University of Ilorin, said science and technology had played a great role in the advancement and maintenance of peace.

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Oluwasesan said that it had enhanced productivity and assisted in making security easier.

He, however, reiterated that the science and technology sector could advance more if the government invested in research and development.

“Government should invest in science research so that we can have results that can meet necessary challenges.

“For me, the Nigerian government is not doing enough because we have scientists, researchers that don’t have adequate working tools, thinking of how to raise money to attend local and international conferences.

“We are even more challenged that some go as far as collecting loans to sponsor their basic research and at the end, when it is presented to the government, it will be dismissed.

He called on government to take a holistic approach in ensuring that the science and technology sector was developed to meet expected standard.