The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, (SAN), has said, at the opening ceremony of the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, First Research Fair and Endowment of Research Grants Funds held at the institution yesterday, that Nigeria can only progress if institutions in the country can commission study that will provide proper data to solve problems facing the country.
Fashola who was the keynote speaker at the event also added that institutions of higher learning in the country need to look into how to use verifiable data in order to help with national planning.
He stated that the country is confronted with many questions about how it can develop and about whether it will be great or whether it will be industrious, “but I will say that’s not the question, that will happen but the question is when will that be because I want to see it and I know there is nothing wrong with Nigeria as a nation, it’s a beautiful country what perhaps may be wrong is the choice we have made, when we make them and what will become of it.”
Saying that the theme of the fair ‘Driving National Development through Research and Innovation is apt, the Fashola cited examples of studies which had helped the Lagos State and the nation in the quest for development.
He cited the case of the All Progressive Congress, a party formed in 2014 and which defeated the incumbent government in 2015. “APC defeated the incumbent in 2015, something no one thought will happen but it doesn’t happen by chance.”
The minister explained that APC campaign based on security, economy and corruption was not by chance but they conducted a study on these areas because they know it has consequence on national development and it was the result of the data collated from the study that gave APC the victory.
“We had data and it was from the data that analyst came and says this is what Nigerians want and we leverage on that to win the election.”
On the case of Oshodi when he was the Lagos State Governor, Fashola revealed that the state got different opinions on what the government should do on the congested area but the scientist working with him then suggested they needed to do a study on the situation.
“It was through the study we were able to know that more than five hundred traders across Nigeria or outside Nigeria used to come in on Sunday morning and they stay till the week is over and they trade on the rail line,” he said.
Fashola explained that with this information, they were able to tackle the situation in Oshodi in line with the mega city they were aiming for at that moment.
“Lekki-Epe Express way as well as the link bridge in Ikoyi, studies were conducted before they were constructed.”
The minister therefore raised questions about security, healthcare, education and the economy because according to him these are serious national developmental issues and perhaps the fair will open opportunities in helping the nation to study some of these things and produce results that will make the nation produce a new thing or to do something differently.
“Where are the published research for our security challenges, in rural areas there are a lot of innovations about these challenges, what about kidnapping, it’s not a new thing, has anyone research why it is back in our society, is it that our hypothesis in the electronic banking that created another avenue for robbers?, these are areas I think, that are good for study.
“Of course, have we commission any study about frequent industrial disputes in different parts of our country, how it affect healthcare delivery, doctors on strike, how it affect education, teachers on strike and how it affects national productivity when all other workers are on strike and what is the solution. These are areas of research on how to get improvement on national development,” he added.
On how the university can raise fund for researches, the former Governor called on private and public organisations and individuals to support the endowment.
“We can seek legislations help on the funding of research and LASU Alumni endowment funds can be a place where LASU can raise a lot of funds”, he suggested.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu represented by the Special Adviser on education, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab said the place of research in the present century cannot be over emphasized hence the theme of the event is very apt.
He added that innovation contribute significantly to the growth of the nation that is why Lagos state is moving from resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one, “the development agenda of this administration is the pillar that represents our drive for the development of the state and the future generation.
He therefore charged the university to proffer solutions to the six pillars of the state development agenda, “as a government I assure you of our support for research drive.
Earlier in his remarks, the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Adigun Fagbohun said the research fair is to provide a forum for industry, government and the community to interact and collaborate with the academia for the development of the nation.
Adding that research remains the tool vital to national development, the VC said the nation develop primarily on innovation and technology and this is dependent on knowledge economy rather than natural resources.
The implication of this according to him is that those nations which are able to generate more knowledge will become richer “and that is why through this fair we want to be identified as one of those institutions capable of generating new knowledge.
“Research is very fundamental to developing new knowledge and universities and citadels of learning are the aids of such knowledge. Lagos State University is making a number of bold statements.
“First we are transforming to become a leading research intensive university. Second, we are here to celebrate research excellent. Third, we are determined to give prominence to generation of new knowledge on platform for cutting edge research and Fourth, we continue to work with the government and the private sector to develop innovative solutions that has direct practical and immediate impact on the problems of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general.
He used the opportunity to call for support for the university endowment fund for research saying; “the fund will be the financial incubator and facilitator for research identified in our university. Our initial or modest target is N1bn and it is our expectations that the Governor and Visitor of our great institution will kick start the LASU research grant.
“Private sector, men and women of goodwill we invite you all to support the LASU grant fund. The assurance of the new LASU is that we will rewrite the institution prosperity in the management of the fund and also best practices of physical accountability while delivering high quality research and solution. A new LASU is progressing and our synergy is very strong.”
In his remarks, the chairman innovation committee and Director, Research, Prof. Muyiwa Odusanya said research is the centre piece and the link to the world class universities and for this reason driving national development through research and innovation not only expresses the vision of the university but also commit us to be unique solution provider and stakeholders in the development of Lagos State and Nigeria.
“We are identified fully with the priority areas of the current administration in Lagos State which is transport, economy and we are telling everyone especially the government that they need not look any further for all the solutions the State requires, Lagos State University will provide it.
On the number of participants, he said about 242 participants are present at the fair simply by collaboration or presenting papers at this research fair. “We have collaborations within departments, inter-departments, even from outside the university.”