The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, has said that no fewer than 32 federal, state and private universities in all geopolitical zones were involved in different stages of research towards tackling direct and collateral impacts of COVID-19.
Rasheed, who was represented by Dr Suleiman Yusuf, Deputy Executive Secretary, Academics, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday at a briefing on the contribution of the Nigerian University System in mitigating the impact of COVID-19.
He noted that the research would be building up over the coming months while reporting efforts of other universities until COVID-19 is consigned to history and lessons learned for tackling future national epidemics and global pandemics.
” As at June 22, not less than 32 universities are involved in different stages of research aimed at galvanising research towards the development of vaccines and non vaccines.
“As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges.
“Only few institutions have been able to utilise open and distance learning system to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only few laboratories continued with research and development activities.
” Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organised national research and innovation system to catalyse the national
Rasheed added that in the area of Genomic research, the African Centers of Excellence (ACE), particularly the Center for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede was collaborating with the University of Cambridge for the development of vaccines.
He said that other ACEs in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Universities of Lagos, Benin, Port Harcourt and Jos which served as national testing and screening centres had proved that world-class research and development was possible in Nigeria.
He, therefore, added that the country’s University System could be readily effective and relevant to national development if research is valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators
On the current efforts of herbal remedies, Rasheed said the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on herbal and natural products development was acknowledged following the great demonstration of enviable political leadership by the President of Madagascar.
“Such will go a long way to motivate homegrown developments and innovation in science
and technology by the NUC, including anti COVID-19 human immunity boosting foods.
“Furthermore, Nigeria needs to develop homegrown capabilities in the production and manufacture of the most basic medical and pharmaceutical products such as PPEs, WASH accessories, and ventilators.
” Limited developments are reported from the few on-going research, but these give some hope that the NUS can provide the R&D base for responding to these needs and much needed structural reconfiguration of the economy.