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‘Varsities must abolish intellectual slavery to transform our economy’


Headquarters of Nigerian Defence Academy

Former vice chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. John Ajienka has called on Nigerian universities and research institutions to abolish intellectual slavery in order to improve and develop the country’s economy.

Ajienka who disclosed this at a one-day conference organised by the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in collaboration with the Association of Environmental Impact Assessment of Nigeria said our universities must abolish intellectual slavery and consider research as an enterprising avenue.

The university teacher said the best of developed countries no longer depend on natural resources any more but on knowledge.“The first university in this country was established in 1948 at Ibadan, while others came subsequently after it, but we don’t seem to have reaped the harvest of intellectual properties that transform a nation and this also shows that we have lost so much to other countries by way of research findings. 

“We have missed a lot of opportunities. For example, there is a professor from the University of Port Harcourt who developed a supplement for sickle cell anemia, and today it has been accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and a drug has been produced for sickle cell. The university did not encourage him when he was engaging in the research and at the end of the day, the university is not benefitting from that research.

“At the university of Ibadan, their was a professor that developed a machine for pounding yam, but at the end of the day the university did not benefit it because they don’t have intellectual property and research policy to benefit from that.”

Ajienka noted that the “policy of publish and perish has not helped any university or any country. Every researcher that discovers something new must first protect that new knowledge (discovery) through patenting and from there , they go through innovation process to develop new products.”He pointed out that Nigeria can only become global player when it prioritises research. “Many foreign universities have gone past research for promotional qualifications, but for development.”

He cited Harvard University as an example, saying the institution is worth $36 billion dollars, richer than a country.He however blamed the lukewarm attitude of academic institutions towards translating research works into innovation, saying this accounted for why Nigerian universities are not ranked among the best in the world.Commandant, NDA, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade said the school is committed towards ensuring that research is top on its agenda.

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