Babatunde Fashola, the former minister of works and housing has called on the Nigerian government to increase budgetary allocations for research purposes.
Speaking during the 5th edition of the Lagos State University Research and Innovation fair, Fashola noted that research is a major economic undertaking contributing to GDP growth and development of countries who commit to it, and providing jobs.
For him, the importance of research cannot be overemphasized as it is a tool for national growth and development.
“Indeed, research and innovation have been key to the survival of the human race and I would like to cite a few more examples of how inventors have impacted humanity positively and laid the foundations for multi-billion dollar industries in the process.
“Medical research and technology have increased the average life expectancy by five years since 1980 while disability rates have declined by 25 percent from 1982 to 2000. In fact, disability-free life expectancy has increased over time.
“Between 1980 and 2010, advances in medical technology helped reduce the number of days spent in hospitals and this has continued to improve,” he said.
Fashola, speaking further, listed the possible fields of research for Nigeria to include medical, industrial, agricultural, animal, environment, space, Forest, ocean.
“The field is almost limitless, including human behaviour, crime, fashion, business, wealth, distribution, housing, education, and health care needs that can inform business decisions.
“The other side of course is that of health and well-being concerns that prevalently challenge people of African descent with sickle cell, and fibroids.
“The good news is that Nigeria has expressed intentions to undertake research in some areas like medicine, through the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), and industry, through the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), and Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) to mention a few.
“What remains in my view is the will and commitment to translate the intention into results that impact national growth and development,” he said.
According to Fashola, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), in the eighties was a leader in inventions and innovations; notable in research that impacted Agriculture with respect to food processing.
He stressed that funding research in agriculture is an area of urgent and compelling need today, not only to support local food security by reducing post-harvest losses but also by supporting Agro export capacity to boost foreign exchange earnings needed to relieve the pressure on the Naira.
He also emphasized the need for Institutions, centres of learning such as LASU to urgently think about establishing or enabling research hubs and incubator centres around universities.
This, according to him, can attract venture capitalists to provide the funding that converts research output to sustainable development.