Students across tertiary institutions and secondary schools in Nigeria have carted away various awards at the ‘2nd National Life Science Competition’ (NLSC-21).
In the tertiary institution category, Francis Peter, a student of Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Warri; Napoleon Honour, a student of Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUTMinna); and Mariam Yusuf, a student of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); emerged third, second and first prize winners.
While Chioma Orji of Federal Government College, Enugu; Adediran Fafure of Christ Apostolic Church Grammar School, Oyo State; and Khairat Jimoh of Jewel Model Schools, Abuja; were the bronze, silver and gold medalists in the secondary school category.
The first, second and third position winners received N100,000; N75,000 and N50,000, respectively.
Winners of five (5) additional, together with six (6) other special prizes, namely: The Professor Isa Hussaini Marte Young Life Scientist Award; The Professor Omowunmi Agboola Sadik Prize in Innovation; The Professor Abba Zubair Prize in Multidisciplinary Innovation; The Professor Christian Happi Excellence in Genomics Award; People’s Choice Award (Sponsored by University of Sussex West African Office); and The NABDA/OFAB Nigeria Excellence in Biotechnology Award, were also unveiled at the event. Other prizes included Yobe SEMA and Yobe State Scholarships Board Prizes.
Some of the award recipients, who joined the ceremony virtually, gave their acceptance speech.
The NLSC, yearly organized by Science Communication Hub Nigeria, is supported by Biochemical Society UK, TReND in Africa and University of Sussex, UK. It is aimed at inspiring Nigerian students to develop interests in life-science courses, or solving life science-related societal challenges.
The grand finale of the 2nd NLSC, which held virtually, attracted eminent Nigerian scientists, representatives of some prominent figures who endowed some of the awards, the competition winners and guests.
In a brief address during the award ceremony, Dr. Rose Maxwell Gidado, Country Director of OFAB, argued that it is important for young pupils to understand better, the problems and challenges facing the advancement of science in Nigeria, as science and technology have an increasing influence on individuals and societies.
She explained that crop biotechnology is the epicentre of the fourth revolution of food production that will meet up the demand of Nigeria’s increasing population, estimated to reach about 420 million by 2050.
The OFAB Country Director, however said: “Despite the numerous benefits of the genetic modification technology in plants, continuous debate and public fear, which is unnecessary is causing setback to the human race in achieving food security.
“Thereby, causing severe hunger in countries around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, with developing nations such as Nigeria seriously affected”.
Chief of Staff to the Borno State Government, Prof. Isa Husseini Marte, while congratulating the organizers of the NLSC, described all the participants as winners; and not only those who won various prizes.
Marte, who sponsored two of the competition’s prizes, noted through his representative, Dr. Mahmoud Bukar Maina of Sussex University, and Founder of SciCom Hub Nigeria; that it takes courage for any student to participate in the NLSC quiz and essay contest.
In a pre-final webinar lecture titled, “Science, Technology and Innovation as Catalyst for Sustainable Development,” Prof. Omowunmi Sadik, lamented that with practically no focus on harnessing the potential of STI, and the country’s unwholesome dependence on crude oil, Nigeria’s global competitiveness is expectedly low.
Sadik, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology, stressed the need for a roadmap to be designed to drive scientific and technological innovation in the country.
Speaking on, “Think Big, Start Small, Act Fast,” another pre-final webinar, Abba Zubair, a Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, advised secondary students in science classes to stay focus, be passionate about studying science, network for global opportunities, emulate the footsteps of their role models and also follow the guidance of their science mentors.