FUTA Don Advocates Corroborative Research to Mitigate Environmental Problems
A Professor of Inorganic Chemistry has stated that corroborative research among the various disciplines in the university system will produce research findings that are capable of solving the myriads of environmental challenges facing the sub Saharan region. Professor Elvis Okoronkwo while delivering the 113th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA said stereotyped research is the bane of scientific breakthrough and called for more solution oriented research among scientists that can be applied appropriately to improve environmental wellness and mitigate the effects of climate change. Speaking on the topic Metal-Organic Interaction: Framework for Environmental Wellness, Okoronkwo said the wellness of the environment involves harmonious relationship among humans, earth, nature and the environment targeted towards disease prevention and a healthy supportive environment which is safe, peaceful, healthy, hygienic and pollution free.
Okoronkwo pointed out that pollution from heavy metals and minerals in the waste water is the most serious problem today globally as most of the point sources of heavy metal pollutants are industrial waste water from mining, metal processing, tanneries, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, organic chemicals, rubber and plastics lumber and wood products. He said these heavy metals are transported by runoff water and contaminate water sources downstream from industrial sites.The lecturer who is also the Head, Chemistry Department, said although metals are majorly natural products of God’s creation, most of them are toxic to the environment but chemists have engaged these metals in millions of reactions and these have yielded new products that have facilitated medical breakthroughs, drug synthesis, waste water treatment, and the improvement of the overall wellness of the environment.Professor Okoronkwo said the nation is in dire need of experts in the field of synthetic Chemistry which according to him is the base of innovations and key to finding solutions to emerging problems.to this effect he called for a special intervention in the education curriculum that will enable more people to take up studies in these core areas of science.
The don recommended a strong collaboration between industries and the academia adding that industries in Nigeria should invest in research for the growth of the nation. He said this can be in the form of grants to research groups or by sponsoring Post graduate training of young Nigerians and setting up laboratories for specific research. Professor Okoronkwo called on agencies such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to overhaul their policies and do more in building manpower from within so that Nigerian universities are brought to the level of excellence found in foreign universities. Okoronkwo said education is the bedrock of any nation and that there is absolutely nothing that can be done without adequate funding of education. He said equipment and reagents needed for effective and worthwhile research are mostly not found in laboratories. Hence government at all levels must invest heavily in higher institutions of learning and research institutes as this will drastically reduce the prevalent brain drain whereby scholars who study abroad have no incentives to return to contribute their own quota towards national development.
In his remarks at the well-attended lecture, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape who chaired the occasion appreciated Professor Okoronkwo’s dexterity in delivering the lecture in spite of the complexities of the field of Chemistry. He described him as an erudite scholar and astute researcher who has contributed immensely to the field of Chemistry.