- AS LOC CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR ESTABILSHMENT OF CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE AT AE-FUNAI
The Faculty of Biological science, Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ebonyi State has hosted the 33rd Annual International Hybrid Conference of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN).
Themed “Harnessing Biotechnology towards Building a Knowledge-Driven and Sustainable Bio-Economy in a Post-Oil Era”, the conference which held from 28th to 1st April, 2021 at the Rasheed Abubakar Auditorium brought together academics, researchers, industrialists, policy makers and students of Biotechnology from different universities in Nigeria who used the opportunity to compare notes and cross-fertilize ideas on the modalities for driving the Nigerian economy through Biotechnology in a post- oil era.
Delivering the keynote speech of the conference, a UNESCO Chair-holder, Plant Biotechnology, Covenant University, Ota, Prof. Olawole O. Obembe, said Nigeria was already living in the post-oil era, stressing that the country’s oil income was at 433billion in 2016 which is 47% of Nigeria’s Revenue and Non-Oil revenue at 602.19 Billion which is 53% of total revenue.
He noted that Biomass is considered as the primary emerging alternative to fossil fuel, stating that it could deliver energy and multiple products. Prof. Obembe further explained that bio-refineries would be integral in supporting a knowledge-driven and environmentally robust sustainable bio-economy, adding that there was need for policy action from government to expedite and finalize the process of setting up a defined and coherent national bio-economy strategic policy that can maximally harness biotechnology to build a knowledge-driven and sustainable bio-economy.
While declaring the conference open, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Society, Prof. Vincent Tenebe thanked the Vice-Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, Prof. Sunday Elom for approving the hosting of the conference in the institution, noting that the Vice-Chancellor has demonstrated that he was among the few that were interested in the practice of the theories that are taught in the university.
The BSN BOT Chair also used the opportunity to call on the Federal Government to integrate Biotechnology into its development policy by changing the Ministry of Science and Technology to Ministry of Science, Technology and Bio-Economy, to drive the Nigerian economic development through functional knowledge.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the conference, Dr. Friday Nwalo has urged the Ministry of Science and Technology to establish a Center of Excellence for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (CEBDE) at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State adding that the Centre would drive Research and Development in the life sciences. He also stated that the University through the directive of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Elom, would be collaborating with CONTEC Global Agro Limited (CGAL) in the area of integrated organic farming geared towards producing in a large scale, chemical-free, disease-free and health-enhancing crops.
While addressing the conference, the National President, Biotechnology Society of Nigeria, Prof. Benjamin Ewa Ubi, said Nigeria is abundant in natural resources, yet depends majorly on oil with several vulnerabilities. He further noted that with a population of about 201 million, Nigeria’s population growth is projected to reach 400 million by 2050, which will concomitantly demand a substantial increase in energy, food, healthcare products, industrial products etc, stressing that this would in turn make sustainable development very difficult.
Earlier, the BOT Chairman, Prof. Tenebe had led a team comprising of the National Executive Committee of the Society to pay a courtesy call on the Vice-chancellor of AE-FUNAI, Prof. Elom, where he congratulated him on his recent appointment, and also used the opportunity to laud the seriousness of the university’s academic activities.
While welcoming the team, the Vice-Chancellor assured them of the University’s commitment to innovation, research and development, wishing them well in their deliberations.