President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerian universities and scientists to intensify research efforts to develop vaccines that can tackle the COVID-19 and its variants, which are afflicting the world.
His call is coming on the heels of the new more contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has triggered global alert as more cases were recorded in Netherland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong, Denmark, Australia, other European countries, just days after it was identified in South Africa.
The new variants has left governments around the world like the United Kingdom (UK), United States (U.S.), Israeli, Brazil, Indonesia, among others, scrambling to stop the spread.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at the fifth and sixth combined convocation ceremony of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA), Katsina State, said universities were supposed to be centres for scientific and technological discoveries, inventions, values and character formation as well as drivers of societal growth.
He said: “The development of the vaccine would fortify Nigerians’ immune system against the virus. My administration remained committed to tackling the challenges of sustainable funding for research, capacity building and employment creation.
“You all know that in the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began its devastating effect on the education sub-sectors, leading to the disruption of universities’ academic activities.
“I, therefore, urge and encourage the universities to intensify their research to come up with a more potent vaccine to fortify our immune system against this dreaded virus.
The President also tasked the universities to explore available opportunities, including research collaboration with allied industries and development partners to create other sources of revenue generation, adding that such drive would support his economic diversification drive.