The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Foundation, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola today drummed support for much-needed funding for the activities of Nigeria’s foremost research institution. This was at the occasion of his working visit to the institution alongside other other members of the board, Trek Africa Newspaper can report.

Mr. Fashola noted: ‘On behalf of the Board of Trustees of NIMR Foundation, I thank the management staff and Director General of NIMR for letting us into this very important portal of life. Let me thank members of the media who have come along with us today. Trust me, I think that you are probably our biggest investor, in case you don’t know it yet. You will hear our team talk about evangelism and this is the heart and purpose of this meeting. We are going to need you to help us to take the importance of research to the consciousness of the Nigerian nation. I will make the case on behalf of our Board, as to why this should be so. But it seems to me that anybody who is interested in improving the human condition and in perpetuating the human civilization must be interested in research. These tools that you carry, all your cameras, were products of research. Without them, you will have more difficulty doing your jobs. Social media platforms in use today are products of research. So, there is industrial research which manages that part of your work, there is medical research and other forms of research.’

‘But the research we have come to talk about today is medical research because Nigeria also has an Institute of Industrial Research where some of the things that we are importing can be made locally. Our evangelism which we talk about seeks to conscientize everybody. Companies who want to do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), research is one place we want them to look at putting money into. Individuals who want to give back to society who are not sure how to do so, research is one place to put money because it benefits society at large in many folds than you can even contemplate. As indeed those who are making their Wills, if you want to give money to charity in your Will, specify research organisations like NIMR, Institute of Industrial Research, those are the kind of places people can donate to.’

‘Those are some of the messages I talk about when I speak about evangelism for research, pointing people towards where they can spend money for human good. Foundations which are already doing some important things in our eco-system can be pointed and urged to look more seriously at how much they are investing in research instead of just how much they are investing in buying things. Indeed, all of you who are from the major electronic and print media organisations that are here should go back to your proprietors and the message from us is that we need them to donate time on their platforms, 20 seconds, 30 seconds to evangelize on investment in research. This is not just government business alone, government will lead it because this is a government owned institution but there are also other platforms where research can be done. That is my first message’, Trek Africa Newspaper gathered.

The former Lagos State Governor added: ‘Let me just say that the heart and soul of this message, is that from what we have seen, (we have gone on a tour and we would go again, and complete the tour), we are sitting on a gold mine in this country. Those who have seen gold when you mine it, know that it is very dirty, so you need to refine gold, and that is where the need for money and the investment come into play. The gold mine is already here but we now need to fund the mine, to refine gold and bring out its value. What are the values that we can bring out? Research is one of the biggest employers of labour all over the world. That is one value – Employment. As a country we are dealing with the economic issues like other countries of the world. We have students coming out of school, investments in research will help the economy. It creates jobs, it creates a value chain of support, supply inputs and so much more. But more importantly, the investment in research is also very, very reliable in terms of return on investment. While on my way here this morning, I was reading a report on the research that shows that every one dollar spent on immunisation yields a return of over 40 dollars. Just immunisation alone, and immunization is a product of research.’

‘This is another sector of our economy that should be opened up and it requires all of us to come together, not just complain about government. And this is the work that we at the NIMR Foundation’s Board of Trustees have done. For those of you who might be wondering, what is Fashola doing here again, this is not roads, this is not about bridges and this is not law. I am not a scientist. But what we are doing here, Aunty Moji Makanjuola, Professor Oye Gureje, Professor Oni Idigbe, the DG Professor Babatunde Salako, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the 14th Emir, our job is just to raise funds, to support the Federal Government owned NIMR to effectively finance and undertake research. I am not claiming to be a scientist but the Board of Trustees of the NIMR Foundation has raised over N300 million and we need more. This is one place where anybody who is research inclined can come, ask for the DG or any of his staff and there is a process by which you can fund it. We have spoken to Government whilst I was still in Government and I want to publicly thank the immediate past Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna-Ahmed because with her collaboration as the head of the ministry, a budget of over a N100 million was increased to N1BN. Let me also thank the immediate past President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, we also evangelised to them to ensure that this provisions if they were made in the Budget remains in the Budget.’

‘But more importantly, a problem which the institute has had was that it was treated like every government agency with the implication that at the end of the year, if any Budget was not spent, they mopped it up. That is not the way to fund a research agency because it means that you have ended the research abruptly. So, there must be a way going forward. Again, this is part of the evangelism, there must be a way to separate and sterilize whatever budgetary provisions and funds provided for NIMR. There are accounting processes by which you can audit what has been spent but don’t take the money away. It’s not even enough anyway. This is one of the reasons why we are here’, the former Minister of Works and Housing stated.

‘I would like to underscore some things in the presentation that the DG made to us. I saw what I call ‘’research in action.’’ I think there were about six different researches that were being undertaken and you will see that they all concern human improvement. One of them, if I recall correctly, was something about looking for new toxins, poisonous substances that we haven’t even yet found that may be in our food. If we find that, then of course we can then provide reactions to them and it will ensure that we all can live longer and better lives. In some of the research work that I have done since I started to chair this agency, I found out that globally it has been proved since 1980 that research has added five extra years to the lives of human beings on the planet and that is a lot of time and it can improve.’

‘I learnt that there are about a billion people suffering from high blood pressure around the world and a significant part also on the continent of Africa. The machine that is used to measure blood pressure, Sphygmomanometer (Sphyg), is also a product of research and a lot is still going on. As Mrs Makanjuola has said, may be barely two or three are not using glasses here. This thing was invented in the 13th century and there have been upgrades, revisions changes and research is still going on. It is predicted that because of this hand-held devices and screens that we are using, half of the world would be wearing glasses by 2050.’

‘We can begin to tie all of these to the real economy. We are complaining that we don’t have enough foreign exchange, how much more are we going to be spending importing glasses, frames and reading accessories, when we can make them here. But we won’t evolve into production if we don’t undertake research. Syringes, and needles are yet another product of research, I think that was discovered in the 19th century and a number of people, about four million people are saved from dying annually through the use of syringes through immunization because you cannot immunize without syringes largely, except for those children for whom you can do oral dosage.’

‘There is a lot of work going on across the world in the area of research and we shouldn’t be left behind because we would be dependent. The capacity to do research is undoubtedly here. I have seen some of the work that been done, grants that have led to inventions. But invention is not the end of it, there is need for investment to take the invention into production. This the gap for venture capital.

‘During this visit, we walked through a Patient’s clinic, that is also a research clinic for those of you who did not know. A study is being done while patients are being treated.’

‘We heard about the database that was being taken in Ijede which would provide a basis, for furthering research, because when you do research for drugs at the end of the day, the last line to cross after the laboratory testing and animal testing is to do human testing to see how human beings react and then of course, this must come before you get certification to start administering them. And there are so many challenges in terms of health care that are unique to black people, that are unique to this part of the world, that the rest of the world is perhaps not really interested in. In any event even if they found solutions to certain ailments, we have physiological make up differences, Blacks and Europeans and we must be sure that what works for them also works for us.’

‘As trustees, our primary goal was fund raising. We have started to raise money with some successes; we are in the next phase now, of trying to conscientize the public that this institution exists and it has capacity to deliver if we support it and that is my final message: to support it with evangelism, about the importance of medical research with news, and with information about what is going on in NIMR and what the Institute can do. I thank you all very much’, he concluded.








By Oki Samson

Categories: Headlines News Politics

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