President Muhammadu Buhari says the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the potentials, talents and creativity of the nation’s scientists who he described as worthy assets to be nurtured.
He made the assertion in a speech delivered earlier on Monday at a public forum organized by the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, where he commended Nigerian engineers for the diversity of their experience and competence.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he said, “I think the pandemic has truly opened up the immense talents and creativity of Nigerian scientists and engineers and if the current momentum is supported, the next few years could be incredibly exciting.”
President Buhari commended the academy and its membership saying, “we are proud of Nigerian Academy of Engineers; your membership is made up of accomplished Nigerian engineers across all disciplines industry sectors of engineering in Nigeria and in the diaspora. This provides it with the depth and diversity of experience and competence to provide advice on virtually all areas of engineering in the country.”
Speaking on the important role of Science, Technology and Engineering in dealing with the pandemic, the President noted that the world turned to these disciplines “for immediate solutions and answers. I am sure that as engineers, you will agree with me that one of the most poignant lessons of the response to the pandemic is the critical interdependence of science and engineering.”
Giving an update on the production of a local vaccine, the President noted that the African Centre of Excellence for the Genomics of Infectious Disease located at Redeemer’s University Ede has “developed an efficacious rapid test for COVID and have been working on a vaccine in collaboration with DIOSynVax (Digital Immune Optimised Synthetic Vaccines), Cambridge UK, using the DIOSynVax genomic-based technology.”
“There are also efforts going on therapeutics of various kinds. The development of vaccines, tests and therapeutics these days are aided by automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, so this is a strong point of synergy between science and engineering.”
Citing the opportunities presented during the lockdown period, President Buhari stated the “huge potential for the creation of effective technologies for telework activities, including Telemedicine and Fintech.”
The President recalled his Executive Order Nos 5 which directs all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and maximise in-country capacity in all contracts and transactions with science, engineering and technology components.
Among those present at the virtual public forum were the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, President of Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Engr Alex Ogedegbe, Executive Secretary of Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Engr Titi Omo-Ettu, Guest Speaker, Engr Prof Babatunde Ogunnaike and other top officials of the academy.