STATEMENT BY THE ADVISORY BOARD ON THE NIGERIA PRIZE FOR SCIENCE, 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for making out time to join us.
In February 2022, the Advisory Board of The Nigeria Prize for Science announced the call for entries for the annual prize, centred on the theme “Innovations in Sustainable Food Security”. By the deadline set for submission, we had received One Hundred and Seven (107) entries – the highest number since the inception of the award.
The theme “Innovations in Sustainable Food Security” is significant because attaining food security is a key component of our national agenda. At the global level, Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security. This entails improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems.
A Panel of Judges was appointed to assess entries submitted for the Prize. The appointed judges are seasoned academics and innovators who have wide experience, peer recognition, good public image and command respect nationally and internationally. The choice of the judges reflects a multi-disciplinary approach relevant to the theme in focus. The entries for the 2022 prize were handed over to the Panel of Judges for independent evaluation. Each member of the Panel evaluated the entries individually and submitted to the Prize Secretariat. Thereafter, the Panel convened, discussed and harmonised the submissions.
The panel was conscious that innovation must be the underlying reason for qualification. To guide the adjudication process, the judges applied an Assessment Criteria approved by the Advisory Board as follows:
o Be patented
o Have academic track record
o Be of high quality
o Demonstrate evidence of originality/uniqueness
o Have significant recognition/awards
o Be sound
o Have wide impact
o Be free of ethical issues
o Be reproducible and attractive to stakeholders
After diligent consideration and objective application of the guidelines and criteria, the judges recommended two (2) most outstanding works on “Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivers under Drought and Well Watered Conditions” by Muhyideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado; and “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” by Sesan Peter Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatunji Olatomilola, as winners of the $100,000 prize money.
Muhyideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado’s work on “Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivers under Drought and Well Watered Conditions” provides us with a unique opportunity. The maize seeds they selected through a breeding programme has been tested to be high yielding and water stress tolerant. The hybrids they selected record yields of 1.73-2.51 t/ha in stress areas and 5-6 t/ha in areas with good rainfall distribution in farmers’ fields against an average yield of 2 t/ha available maize varieties in Nigeria in the last five years.
Sesan Peter Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatunji Olatomilola’s work on “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” is important innovation for reducing spoilage of farm products and package for distribution as well as value addition for farm products. It is resourceful in scaling up from batch production to industrial scale continuous flour production relevant beyond plantain to other food items.
Following the Judge’s recommendation and the ratification by the Advisory board, the recommended entries are hereby declared as the Nigeria Prize for Science 2022 Winners.
Whilst we are excited about having a prize winner for 2022 as against 2020/2021, it is expedient we highlight the high number of low-quality entries that do not meet the requisite criteria to merit the award. This is disturbing considering the importance of the focus to our nation and indeed our world.
The Advisory Board is optimistic that the award of this prize annually will continue to reinvigorate the passion of both budding and more established scientists and innovators in finding solutions to our everyday issues. We commend the Panel of judges for the diligence, which was apparent in the delivery of this assignment. We are particularly pleased that in evaluating the entries, they upheld the objectives of the Prize as it seeks to identify and promote excellence in utilizing scientific knowledge for the achievement of desired solutions. I also acknowledge and commend my colleagues on the Advisory Board for their invaluable contributions throughout the process.
We applaud the Board and Management of Nigeria LNG for instituting and sustaining the biggest Science Prize in Africa. We hope that other corporate organisations will emulate them as they continue to demonstrate their passion for helping to build a better Nigeria and ultimately Africa. We particularly thank them for their consistency and continued sponsorship of the prize in the face of our challenging economic and social landscape.
Finally, our gratitude is to you all ladies and gentlemen of the press for publicising the Prize.
Prof. Barth Nnaji
Chairman, Advisory Board – The Nigeria Prize for Science