The March for Science, has become a global event through which scientists draw attention to the importance of science in enhancing humanity and preserving nature. Last week, CALEB ONWE was part of the walk in Abuja
Experts believe that the march became necessary in view of the fact that many policymakers were not making informed decisions, due to acute scarcity of the scientific knowledge, and this has deprived the ordinary people the benefits of science.
This may be why so much efforts are been channelled into demystifying the myths attached to science by ignorance. It has become a task, not just for the scientists alone, but for everyone that has come to understand the enormous benefits inherent in it, and the implications of its relegation in the scheme of things.
In some places, scientists are often viewed with so much suspicions and utter bewilderment, especially by those not divinely or academically endowed with scientific knowledge.
Scientific products and innovations have also been misconstrued as conveyors of mysterious and coded contents that require extra care to use.
The situation is even more alarming in this part of the globe, due to insufficient education. Ignorance appear to be fighting science, which apparently, could be described as the only lifeline available to humanity.
In developed countries, adequate education has aided both policymakers and industrial icons to rightly commit more resources to the development, application and deployment of science in order to enhance standard of living.
Suffice to say that, though, scientific procedures may be complicated for a layman’s comprehension, patience needed to decipher the rudimentary components, are always a scarce commodity.
Evolution of march for science
The ‘march for science’ started as a series of rallies in Washington D.C, United States of America, and was organised by scientists and their supporters, who wanted the society to be abreast of what science stands for in the society. It has gradually become a global event that seeks to remove suspicion and scepticism around science.
The march, which has gained global recognition, emphasises that science needed to be accepted as an instrument for evidence-based policy, for common good and for the interest of the public.
It has become a strategic platform in Nigeria, which Scientists are deploying to cure the malaise of ignorance that has increased scepticism and unwarranted onslaught against scientific innovations and products.
This year’s march, with the theme: ” Science and Technology, an Agent for Economic Development,” was organised by the National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology( OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria Chapter and the Cornell Alliance for Science.
The streets of Abuja felt the impact of the scientists, government officials, over 280 Civil Society Groups, farmers, students and others who carried placards with various signs in support of science and all its products.
Inside Abuja gathered that the call for a mindset shift on the adoption of science and especially biotechnology that has proven to be the only hope for food security and safety had drawn the attention of even the Nigeria Nollywood stars.
This was evidenced by the presence of a notable Nollywood actor, Paul Obazele, who joined in solidarity to proclaim the good news of biotechnology.
Country Coordinator or OFAB, Dr. Rose Gidado, while explaining the essence of the march in Nigeria, said that science is a human process that if well harnessed and deployed, could enhance humanity with a sure guarantee for improved standard of living.
Gidado lamented that scientific research was not gaining enough support it needed to drive the plan towards revitalizing the agricultural sector. She said that both scientists and other stakeholders needed to create an open honest science communication and inclusive public outreach.
“Science works best when scientists share our findings with and engage the communities we serve in shaping, sharing, and participating in the research process”
On why Nigerian scientists aligned with their counterparts in other parts of the world in the March, she stated that there was the need to speak up for science because ” Science research is not gaining enough support it needs to drive the plan to revitalize Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
“Science is a vital feature of a working democracy, spurring innovation, critical thinking, increased understanding, and better, healthier lives for all people”, she noted.
How science enhances humanity, food security
Director General of NABDA, Abayomi Oguntade, pointed out that Science has proven to be a dependable ally in making the society a better place not just for humanity but also for animals.
“Nigerian scientists have developed various scientific tools that can help in the area of food security, combating climate change. The public have not been fully aware of it. This march for Science therefore, has provided yet another opportunity for Science supporters to come together, join voices to amplify available science based solutions the nation can adopt to ensure food security,” Oguntade said.
Another scientist, and a University lecturer, Dr. James Igwe, told Inside Abuja that science has given birth to agriculture biotechnology, but unfortunately, the society that should appreciate the new life that has come through the technology is fighting and resisting it due to ignorance.
Igwe, who is also the Public Relations Officer of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria ( BSN), noted that biotechnology is a veritable tool that is needed both in the field of agriculture, medicine and environment, even in molecular analysis.
He stated that those who are fighting agriculture biotechnology, are ignorant and do not understand its applications which are very important in all spheres of human endeavour.
“Fighting agricultural biotechnology in Nigeria is like moving the hand of development backward. Biotechnology is the only tool that can be applied in agriculture to enhance the products for food security. Other parts of the world have seen and understood what biotechnology is and are taking advantage of it.”
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