The Association of Commonwealth Universities on Wednesday lauded Nigeria’s contributions to research activities within Africa.
The association’s Project Officer, Sofia Apollonov gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of a two- day workshop in Lagos.
The workshop with the theme: Developing the Next Generation of Researchers, was organised by the association in collaboration with the University of Lagos.
Apollonov said Nigeria was doing well in the area of research and the country’s universities had been in the forefront of Africa’s research efforts.
“That is why we will want to keep coming back to Nigeria to keep supporting the emerging researchers as well as keep working with its academia. Before now, we were at the Ebonyi State University.
“Nigeria should also keep intensifying efforts in finding solutions to climate change because as you know, this is going to affect everyone.
“As a multidisciplinary area of research, we need scientists, social scientists, researchers who will be focused on how we can tackle it, and this is where our Circle Visiting Fellows (CVF) that forms the basis of this workshop comes handy.
“We have seven Nigerian CVF team who have currently focused themselves on research of how to combat climate change.
“ Many of our CVFs have done fellowships across Africa in climate change researches and what they are producing is really important not just to Africa but the world as a whole.
“Part of the programmes of this association is about promoting inter-African modalities for researchers,’’ she said.
The project officer, however, noted that there was need for researchers to feel supported.
“Early or emerging career researchers should be supported by senior academics,’’ she said.
According to her, the senior academics must be able to take up active role in supporting the professional development of the emerging career researchers by way of improving their skill and capacity.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Research, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, also told NAN that the initiative was a step in the right direction as it had brought young researchers together.
He noted that the workshop would provide a platform for the researchers to what research entails and for them to understand that there was an urgent need for collaboration and networking amongst themselves.
“Through this workshop, they will also be able to know that in today’s world, there is need for them to engage in research that is need driven in order to help their respective countries move forward.
“This is a programme that has attracted researchers from within Nigeria and outside the country and narrowing it down to Nigeria, I make bold to say that there are lots of researches going on in our institutions, including university of Lagos.
“In order to also complement the research efforts, the Lagos State Government has just set up a research and Innovation Council and this is the only thing that can truly bring our country out of its current multifaceted challenges.
“An example is that of the recent flood that was experienced in some parts of the state and now we are bringing together experts that would rub minds and come up with a permanent solution to this,’’ Ogundipe said.
He said that the institution was currently repositioning to a university of need-oriented research work in order to accelerate transformation and national development.
The don said that the only way Nigeria could move forward was through intensive research, innovation, incubation and development.
Dr Musa Obalola, Chairman, Local Organising Committee of the workshop, noted that no fewer than 25 delegates from African universities were participating in the programme.
He said that Nigerian universities were well represented.
“Our responsibility is not limited to just teaching and learning, but also research and community development, so we need to ensure that skills are sharpened to enhance research that will improve the lot of the common man.
“Through this workshop, we will engage researchers in Africa on various methodologies of research and how to move the continent forward.
“There are a lot of gaps in the area of research that we need to fill, because even in countries where there is considerable progress in research, research is still on going, so we need to keep going,’’ he said.
Prof. Cliff Studman, Director, Research, St John’s University of Tanzania, also emphasised on the need to create access that would produce more researchers in the continent through best practices.
“Lack of qualification though, with a big expansion in the number of universities and that of students, is a challenge that should be tackled.
“What it means is that there is shortfall of academics qualified enough to impact on upcoming researchers. But with such programmes in place by the association, Africa is gradually making its mark in the area of research.
“Before now, we get resource persons from Europe and other places to come talk to researchers in Africa, but with this programme, it is Africans talking to Africans and this is a tremendous progress and must be encouraged ,’’ he said.(NAN)