Worried by the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID- 19) on Nigeria and African continent by extension and the need to position the country for post- COVID-19 era, African scholars have challenged African government to design a roadmap for funding research activities and training in universities.
This is as they urged the government to invest heavily in research equipment, facilities and training of scientists in post-COVID-19, while scientists and research institutions should engage in collaboration that will address the numerous needs of the country.
The call was made by the Vice-Chancellor of Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, Prof. Suleiman Bilbis during the international symposium, organised by Lagos State University (LASU) to mark the 80th posthumous birthday of the former Vice- Chancellor of the university, the Late Prof. Enitan Abisogun Bababunmi. The theme of the symposium is “Agenda for Assuring Quality of Training of Scientists Post-COVID-19.”
The Late Prof. Bababunmi, a renowned scientist and a great scholar, who would have turned 80 on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, died on Monday, May 29, 2017. In his keynote address, with the theme: “COVID-19 and the Economy: Political Impact on the Quality of Training of Scientists in Africa,”
Prof. Bilbis recalled that COVID-19 had restricted many scientists from doing their jobs, especially in the area of research. He, therefore, asked if Nigeria was prepared for the aftermath of COVID-19 economy, lamenting that two pandemic attacks were up against the Nigerian university system, which he listed as the coronavirus and incessant ASUU strikes.
The don, who expressed optimism that the issues that threw up the strike would be resolved amicably before reopening of the ivory towers, so that scientists could go back to what they know how to do in terms of teaching, research and community service, however, called on the Federal Government and ASUU to find a way to broker peace.
“After COVID-19, we should design a roadmap for funding of training of scientists, while the government must find a way to fund training and research activities of scientists for post- COVID-19 era.
The government should also invest in equipment and there must be collaboration, as well as training of scientists in the post-COVID-19.” On the impact of the pandemic, Bilbis argued: “If the global health crisis could wreck the economy of the United States, we can imagine the effects on Africa’s economy.
We must prepare adequately for post- COVID-19. Whatever affects Nigeria will have a great impact on Africa.”
He decried the situation whereby African scientists could not join their counterparts around the globe in research activities during the lockdown, due to lack of funding and grants, but added that while scientists in other climes were working online, the same could not be said of African scientists as they struggled to achieve their core mandate.
The symposium held via virtual zoom platform was moderated by the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Distinguished Prof. Peter Okebukola, with the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Prof. Mosto Onuoha; Prof. Jophus Anamuah-Mensah from Ghana; President, Burundi Academy of Science and Technology, Prof. Jumah Shabani; and the Director Academic Planning of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Biodun Saliu as discussants.