Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, on Monday expressed readiness of his administration to fund Prof. Maurice Iwu’s abandoned research work on infectious diseases, such as the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, if he so desired to benefit from the state’s N142 million research grant.
The governor, also tasked scientists in Africa and Nigeria in particular to get involved in ground breaking work that will contribute to the development of Africans.
Fashola made the remarks at the presentation of research grants, drawn in cheques to seven tertiary institutions, both Federal and states, including a neighbouring state at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
The governor had constituted a 10-man Lagos State Research and Development Council which was inaugurated on November 21, 2012, towards identifying and funding research and development ideas to address the developmental challenges of Lagos State as well as to build the research capacity of the tertiary institutions in the state.
It will be recalled that Iwu who set up and headed the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme, led a research that reportedly started 10 years ago, after researchers were led to a plant commonly eaten in West Africa, popularly known as Bitter kola by traditional native healers who said they have used the plant for the treatment of infectious diseases for centuries.
Prof. Iwu who also came from a family of traditional healers after the tour said: “This is a very exciting discovery. The same forest that yields the dreaded Ebola virus could be a source of the cure.”
Maurice Iwu, who is a Professor of Pharmacognosy, was appointed Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in June 2005, and was later removed from office in April 2010.
According to Fashola: “I was curious about what Professor Maurice Iwu was doing with elections if he was already researching on how Bitter Kola can cure some diseases.
“He should come back and do his work because really this is his core competence and if he is listening to me, I am challenging him that he will be able to reopen the frontiers of that research and present it, this organization will fund it.”
A total research grant of N142 million was approved for the state, with the first tranche of N71 million, which is 50 percent of the total sum was presented to seven beneficiaries.
The grants were to be disbursed to 10 sectors; three in agriculture, three in education, six in environmental science one in finance, eight in health, one in water, one information communication technology, one in manufacturing, three in power and energy and three in media creative art.
While stressing that the grant has no ethnic, religious nor geographical boundaries, added that government would continue to support and fund any idea, so long as it is relevant to the developmental objectives in the state.
“It really does not matter it is knowledge, learning, result and advancement of development that really matter.”
Speaking earlier, Professor Olufemi Bamiro, Chairman of the Lagos State Research and Development Council explained that the council held several meetings and consulted within and outside the government culminating in the development of 70-page research brief document containing identified research areas under the four main thematic areas of infrastructure development and management, social sciences, arts and humanity, science and technology and other areas.
According to him 30 proposals were approved for funding spread over the thematic areas with a grant of N126 million ranging from N3-N5 million per grant.
Among the institutions who received the 31 research projects grants were; University of Lagos, UNILAG, Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, Caleb University, Pan African University and Yaba College of Technology.