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Professor Onwualu Calls For The Creation Of National Research Fund

L:R:- Professor Azikiwe Peter Onwualu, FAS, President, AUST and Chief Uche Geoffrey Nnaji, Honorable Minister For Science, Technology and Innovation pose for a photograph during the visit in Abuja on Tuesday

The President of  African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Professor Azikiwe Peter Onwualu, FAS, has asked the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a National Research Fund (NRF) if its dream of technological advancement is to be achieved.

Professor Onwualu said this shortly after a courtesy visit to the Honorable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Uche Geoffrey Nnaji on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said that a cursory look at the developed countries show that they have used research to drive development through a national research fund.

The AUST boss said that part of what the university has been doing in collaboration with a donor agency in Canada is to build the technical capacity of a number of countries within Africa.

He said such capacity was for these countries to have a national research fund, where people who intended to conduct research for national development could access funds.

Professor Onwualu added  that this was irrespective of whether such a researcher or innovator was from the public or private sector. According to him, as long as the research is for the development of the country, funds will be made available and accessible via the NRF.

He further stressed that when the fund is put in place, realizable researches that can lead to the production of products, goods and services would have been achieved.

He disclosed that the issue of the establishment of a Research Trust Fund formed part of his discussion with the Honorable Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation in collaboration with the IDRC donor agency in Canada.

Onwualu said that technology could be used to solve societal problems in Nigeria, cutting across various sectors such as security, agriculture, housing infrastructure among others.

He said the University trained students from all over Africa in different areas of science, technology and innovation as well as in business.

“The whole idea is to train young Nigerians and young Africans with skills, what we call industry-ready students.

“Beyond the teaching and research we are doing, we have developed a number of technology-based products and these are what we came to brief the minister on.

“In addition to the teaching and research we do, we also have an innovation hub where ideas can be incubated and they become businesses,” he reiterated.

Onwualu stated that the University had a number of start-ups in its facilities, and expressed optimism that ideas emanating from these facilities could be used to solve national problems.

He said with more collaboration from the ministry in the area of capacity building, the university would be able to fast-track Nigeria’s progress.

Earlier, the Minister, Chief Uche Nnaji, thanked Professor Onwualu for his visit and promised that his ministry will collaborate with AUST in research more especially research that would proffer solutions to the insecurity bedeviling the country over the past few years.

Professor Onwualu was accompanied on the visit by Dr. Abdulhakeem Bello, AUST Director of Academic Planning; Dr. Vitalis Anye, HoD, Materials Science and Engineering, Dr. Abubakar Muhammed, HoD, School of Accounting; Prince Obioha Atulomah, Head, Media Services and Public Relations; Ms Nneoma Chimbonu, Secretary to the President; Mr. Solomon Ibrahim, Budget Officer and Personal Assistant to the President and Mr. Chidiebere Uchendu, Media Assistant.