Scientists under the auspices of Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) have x-rayed the importance of science, saying it holds the key for national and socio-economic development of any society.
Speaking at the induction of fellows and presentation of 2017 NAS Gold Medal/Medalist Lecture titled: ‘Functional clay’s: Potent charms for water pollutants”, in Abuja, they stressed that no society could make any meaningful progress without deploying science, technology and innovation to drive the major sectors of its economy. They tasked Nigerians to give utmost support to scientists to lead developmental efforts of the nation.
In his welcome address, NAS president, Prof. Mosto Onuoha said science has major role to play in all spheres of life including the millennium development goals, pointing out that the association, as a science think tank, was working hard to ensure that the gains of science and technology were brought to the ordinary Nigerian.
Saying only science can solve problems like poverty alleviation and food security, he added that NAS was working hard to ensure that what was available in other parts of the world were brought to Nigeria and also take what was available in Nigeria outside the country.
He expressed regret that the country has no science culture but pointed out that NAS was working to encourage that.
Speaking on the induction, he said “we do this every year which means the fellowship is growing. The yardstick remains the same- merit!
He added: “NAS in recent time instituted a gold medal award because it’s important to recognize those that have excelled given the condition of Nigeria and the level of poverty in the country.”
In his remarks, the chairman of NAS science prize committee, Prof. Gabriel Ogunmola, urged the nation to fund science and give utmost support to scientists in their work to promote national development.
On the NAS gold medal award, he said the inaugural award was meant for deserving Nigerians who made the scientific achievement in the science of national relevance and resonance.
The guest lecturer and winner of the NAS Gold Medal, Dr. Emmanuel I. Unuabonah, in his lecture on ‘‘Functional Clays: Potent charms for water pollutants’’ focused on the development of alternatives for the replacement of expensive zeolite, activated carbon and membranes currently being used in the treatment of water and wastewater.
Unuabonah, who is an associate professor, department of chemical sciences at the Redeemers University, Ede, stressed the need to look for other verifiable means to proffer solutions to water pollutants in the country.
“Clean water is actually life. 71 percent of the world is covered with water but unfortunately there is no clean water,” he said, adding “it’s not about the colour of the water. The water may be clean but there are chemicals in the water that when taken into the body poses health challenge.”
He canvassed the use of clay for water treatment, saying other means of water treatment are expensive but “clay is a cheap source of material that can be engineered to serve the purpose for which you desire.”
He decried the state of the country’s water treatment plant saying it does not have the ability to remove water pollutants. “We still have water borne diseases in Nigeria. So, the solution to our problem is right here with us, the clay! The clay attracts the pollutants in the water to itself leaving no residue,” he further pointed out.
According to him, innovation materials are easily regenerated, revisable over several cycles to efficiently treat wastewater, and do not produce any toxic disinfection by products unlike in chemical disinfection methods for pathogens in water.
Unuabonah said the innovation had the potential to be further developed into points-of-uses systems for ready treatment of water in rural communities.
On the award, he thanked NAS for giving voice to young scientists saying it is a challenge for him to do more.
The high point of the event was the induction of nine new members as fellows of the leading science academy in the country.
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