The Federal Ministry of Education has urged ABU Zaria and other Nigerian universities, particularly the World Bank-funded African Centres of Excellence (ACEs) to focus their researches on tackling the killer infection, COVID-19.
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, stated this in Abuja at the 12th ACE 1 Conference and 3rd ACE for Development Impact Project Workshop which brought together experts from more than 53 universities across Africa to the Federal Capital Territory.
The ACE 1 conference aims at promoting academic cooperation and specialisation among participating universities from the West and Central African sub-regions.
The minister noted on Thursday that Africa needed to produce a “critical mass of professionals, at the Masters and Doctor of Philosophy levels, to meet the labour market demands and to drive development, economic growth and poverty reduction.”
Nwajiuba said, “The ACE Project in selected universities is all about addressing common regional challenges and strengthening institutional capacities to deliver high quality training and applied researches. The objective of the ACE Impact Project is to improve the quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education through regional specialisation and collaboration.
“One of our ACEs in Nigeria, the Africa Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Osun State, played a major role in the containment of the spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria in 2014.
“I am drawing attention to this case because we are again confronted with another killer virus, the coronavirus and I am confident that the African Centre of Excellence in universities is equal to the task and will rise up to the occasion.
“The Federal Government, through the ACE, is revolutionising higher education in terms of research and postgraduate training.”
The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said one of the Nigerian universities’ ACEs, through researches, developed “a 10-minute testing kit for both the Ebola and Lassa fever viruses.”
Rasheed added that the ACE project was launched by the World Bank in 2013 to promote regional specialisation among universities to address development challenges and strengthen their capacities.
The NUC ES said, “The project has encouraged interdisciplinary research in the Nigerian university system, as well as institutional and private sector collaborations. One of the Nigerian ACEs spearheaded the containment of the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 and subsequently developed a 10-minute testing kit for both the Ebola and Lassa fever viruses. Another Nigerian ACE developed the anti-snake venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus.
The ACEs, now in about 44 universities in Nigeria, were established to address common regional development challenges and strengthen their capacities to deliver high-quality training and applied research.