For the first time in the history of The Nigeria Prize for Science, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), the 2018 edition of the prize has received a record-breaking 85 entries, from innovators and scientists in the electric power sector vying for the $100,000 Prize money.
This was revealed Monday at a formal ceremony in Lagos to hand-over the entries to the Advisory Board of the prize, chaired by Professor Alfred Akpoveta Susu. This achievement closely follows last year’s record in entries received for “Innovations in Malaria Control”, which led to the award of the 2017 prize to three ground-breaking entries to fight Malaria scourge.
Handing over this year’s entries, NLNG’s Deputy Managing Director, Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, represented by Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Andy Odeh, said efforts to put the prize back on the map of global science awards have begun to pay off, for Nigerians through finding scientific solutions to problems in the country.
“This time every year, we gather here to hand over the entries to judges, signifying the beginning of the adjudication process which will culminate in the announcement of the winner in October. This year’s event is inspiring as we celebrate a first in the history of the science prize with record 85 entries submitted. Keep in mind that this same prize was almost comatose at some point. Its popularity dwindled over the years as a result of a drop in quality and number of entries received.”
“In 2012, we called a stakeholders’ meeting to review the process. This led to the inauguration of the present Advisory Board in 2016. With this review, the science prize recorded improved patronage evidenced by an impressive 27 entries in 2017. We have 85 entries for this year’s theme of “Innovations in Electric Power Solutions”, showing a remarkable increase, and further proof of the level of awareness and interest in one of Africa’s most prestigious science and technology prize.”
Receiving the entries on behalf of the Advisory Board, Professor Susu, remarked that “We are intrigued by the number of entries submitted for this year’s prize. The advisory board have selected the judges for this year’s theme and will work to deliver the outcome we got last year, based on excellence only. The judges are all professionals in their field. They would be evaluating the entries and come up with the most excellent submission based on a set of agreed criteria.”
The entries were immediately handed over to the panel of judges, chaired by Professor Francis Oluwole. In his remarks, he said “As a country, we have concentrated so much on fossil fuel. This is a good time to look into alternative sources. Nigeria is well blessed with these alternative sources – solar, hydro and to some extent wind. With the rising concerns on climate change, most of these alternatives have little or no effect on the climate, hence the need to shift focus”
“On behalf of panel of judges, we promise to do our best within the available time to review the entries and present the most excellent submission as the winner,” he added.
Professor Oluwole is a professor of Physics and comes with a wealth of experience in atomic and nuclear energy. He has taught and worked in several universities including University of Heidelberg; University of Washington, Seattle; Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); and Nuclear Research Center, State University Washington. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Physics and member of the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Nuclear Society, among others.
Other members of the panel are Professor Onyemaechi Ekechukwu and Professor Abubakar Sani Sambo. Professor Ekechukwu is a professor of Applied Solar Energy in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has undertaken research in applied solar energy in conjunction with reputable organisations and has authored and co-authored various articles in both national and international journals. Professor Sambo is a professor of Energy Studies and was former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at Usmanu Dan-Fodio University, Sokoto; Vice Chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi; Vice Chancellor of Kaduna State University; and the Director General of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN).
On the prize’s Advisory Board are Professor Michael Adikwu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja and also a past winner of the science prize; Professor Elijah Mshelia, a nuclear physicist; Professor Barth Nnaji, renowned scientist and former Minister of Power; and Chief Dr. Nike Akande, two-time minister and immediate past President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s premier chamber of commerce.
The first winner for the prize in 2004 was Professor Akpoveta Susu and his then doctoral student, Kingsley Abhulimen. In 2005, there was no winner. Professor Michael Adikwu won the prize in 2006. In 2007, as it was in 2005, there was no winner, however, in 2008, Dr. Ebenezer Meshida emerged winner.
Professor Andrew Nok and Professor Akii Ibhadode won the prize in 2009 and 2010 respectively. There was no winner until 2017 when the prize was jointly awarded to three entries by Ikeoluwapo Ajayi, Ayodele Jegede, Bidemi Yusuf, Olugbenga Mokuolu and Chukwuma Agubata.