By Adeola Badru
Professor of Virology and member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 vaccine composition, Oyewale Tomori, has said that Nigeria has become a beggar for COVID-19 vaccines because it has failed to consistently invest in education, science and technology.
He lamented that the 23 years of born-again democracy has been full of huge investment in corruption and immorality, adding that no good or relevant science can come under poor governance.
Professor Tomori said the repercussion of refusing to invest in science and technology is the growing population of over 11 million children-out of-school, dilapidated infrastructure, and becoming the poverty capital of the world.
While speaking on the topic: “Science, Scientist and Society’ at the 79th Interdisciplinary Research Discourse of the Postgraduate College, University of Ibadan, put together by the Provost, Professor Jonathan Babalola, yesterday, Professor Tomori, said while other countries are enjoying sumptuous return on investment, Nigeria is reaping return on iniquity and immorality which makes to depend on loans to pay salaries of workers and having growing population of poor people.
He said: “While other countries are getting sumptuous result on their investments, we are wallowing in our own return on iniquity. And on return on immorality. That is why we have 10.5million of our children out of school, 4.5million under vaccinated, we become the poverty capital of the world.”
“We are investing hugely on corruption and disdain for science and technology. And we now depend of IMF loans and world bank to pay our workers’ salaries, to import food which we should be producing.”
According to him, the US government invested between 1988 and 2010 $3.8billion dollars which has yielded $796billion return on investment saying apart from failing to invest in science and technology, Nigeria fails to provide clement environment that can make science thrive.
“A recent study said US government between 1988 and 2010 invested $3.8billion in genome project and it is already generating $796billion. This is what is called return on investment.”
Economic progress, he said, should be the direct result from advance in science and technology because everything we use in our communication, transportation, housing, clothing are products of investment in science and technology.
While saying science is the engine for human posterity, Prof. Tomori urged Nigerian government to consistently invest in long term research in science and technology.
“What do we expect from our government? Consistent and long-term support, adequate funding and private sector investment and patience. Those at the things that create enabling environment for science to thrive.”
“Many governments in Africa wants rapid results, we want results immediately. We don’t invest in it consistently but now that now that US and UK are benefitting from long term investment, we have become beggars for vaccines and for other things because we will not invest as they are doing.”
“The money given to our science and technology goes to salary and emoluments in Nigeria. The money you put into education and science is what makes the difference in the countries that are doing well. The 2022 budget for science and technology is 202billion but almost all of it are on capital project.”
“Allocation for research is specifically 6billion and when you look at the details of what they put as research, it includes workshops, training, renovation of staff quarters, building of new hostels among others.”
“That is what we call research in Nigeria and at the section they call miscellaneous and they are refreshments, honorarium, sitting allowance and what we call welfare package and put about 514million naira for that.”
“Now we have had 23 years of born again democracy in Nigeria and Nigeria still remain the slumbering giant where fraud and crime stand in the brotherhood of decadence, depravity, excessive wastefulness, extravagance licentiousness.”
“No sector is free of this rot at home, in our schools, tainted political and traditional class, and then we have the culture of national immorality which permeates our country. There is no good or relevant science that can come under poor governance.”
In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor University of Ibadan, Professor Kayode Odebowale, stated that Society helps to determine which research should be encouraged or discouraged and how its resources are deployed to fund scientific researches.
He stated that it was imperative that the gown and town form a synergy and foster fruitful relationship for the positive transformation of Nigeria.