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Methanol production will create jobs, wealth in Nigeria — Onu

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Methanol production will create jobs, wealth in Nigeria — Onu

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has said that Methanol Production Technology will create jobs and wealth in Nigeria.


A statement by Abdulganiyu Aminu, the ministry’s spokesman, in Abuja, said the minister made this known at the Second Inter-Ministerial meeting of the implementation of the National Policy on Methanol Fuel Production Technology.

“Nigeria’s enormous gas resources will be converted into useful products, through methanol technology, thereby paving the way for other businesses to grow.

“The introduction of methanol technology will go a long way in reducing gas flaring in the environment,” Onu said.

He noted that the demand for gas by businesses would tremendously reduce gas flaring.

The minister said that the Federal Government had intended to end gas flaring in Nigeria, adding that with methanol technology production a large amount of gas flared would be converted to methanol.

He further said that with methanol usage of kerosene and firewood to cook would be reduced to the barest minimum thereby reducing deforestation.

“Methanol is a major raw material in industrial production and will impact positively on transportation, power generation and manufacturing.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Bello Umar, had called on the committee to ensure thorough work was done toward the immediate implementation of the policy.

Umar said it was for the good of the nation and to boost the revenue drive of the Federal Government.

Edited by: Chidi Opara/Donald Ugwu

Joy Kaka: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Science & Technology

COVID-19: Nigeria, Africa to expand testing capacity with homemade diagnostic kit

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Nigeria’s efforts at developing solution to the challenge of non-availability and high cost of coronavirus diagnostic kits have finally paid off with the development of RNASwift Extraction kit.

This was disclosed by Prof. Alex Akpa, Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), on Thursday during a news briefing held at the conference room of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Abuja.

He said the RNASwift test kit would not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-Based COVID-19 testing, but will also expand the capacity by 50 times at least.

Akpa also said it would equally reduce cost by over 500 per cent as compared to the conventional kit in use.

“This meets the demands of the Test Africa Initiative. The kits will be produced in Nigeria, which is great news considering that it will enable preference to be given to the testing needs of Africa.

“The need for the invention was conceived by the request from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), to test five million farmers and farm hands.

“This was to ensure that our food security chain was not compromised by COVID-19,’’ the D-G said.

According to him, the RNASwift test kit is an indigenous diagnostic test kit designed, developed and validated in Nigeria for the identification of the causal agent, SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19.

He noted that the diagnostic kit is “very accurate and sensitive’’ and competes favourably with conventional and commercially available kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

“This is in addition to a careful choice of reagents that are human and environmentally friendly in the development of the protocol for the diagnostic kit.

“In fact, the attributes of the RNASwift kits make it a game changer in the design and production of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases in the face of an epidemic or a pandemic,’’ Akpa said.

He further said that the project was made possible due to the scientific collaboration between the NABDA, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).

Prof. Akpa added that the technical support team of University of Sheffield, led by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, also made the project successful.

In his speech at the briefing, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, recalled that the first index case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria on Feb. 27.

Onu said he had tasked Nigerian scientists to come up with a solution with the sum of N36 million pledge.

The Minister said Nigerians were creative and talented enough to develop home grown solutions to major challenges confronting the country, Africa and the world, with the RNASwift test kit as an example.

“Today, the RNASwift extraction kit developed by Nigerian scientists has capacity in an accurate, sensitive and affordable cost to detect SARS-Cov2, the causative agent of COVID-19.

“With the RNASwift test kit, we are going to test five million farmers, and the new test kit will reduced cost drastically,’’ Onu said.

He hinted that the African Development Bank was interested in it, not only as Test Africa Initiative, but that Nigeria should be the rallying point.

Similarly, he said the other African countries stood to benefit from the test kits due to the low cost.

The minister commended NABDA and said the agency had not only made the Ministry proud but Nigeria as a whole.

Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the test kit invented and developed was very critical to the present situation of insufficient test kits.

He said the FMARD was in the forefront when it came to food security, adding that with the invention and successful validation of the test kit, it was time for Nigerians to look inwards.

“We have talents and we need to develop and build on these talents, we will realise our target of testing five million farmers and Nigerians would be proud of this test kits,’’ Nanono said.

He applauded NABDA for the project, saying the success of the test kit was a milestone recorded in the FMST.

Speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the briefing, Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist and Deputy Director at NABDA, said the day was remarkable and historic for the agency, the ministry as well as Nigerians.

She said the new test kits could test more than 20,000 people a day but if more testing centres were set up, it could go up to 50,000 with automation.

The Scientist added that the need to test more Nigerians was necessary in order to isolate and treat.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Politics

Group tasks APC Caretaker Committee on genuine national reconciliation, party stability

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A group, The Onu Political Organisation (TOPO), has urged the  Caretaker /Extraordinary National Convention Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to work towards achieving genuine reconciliation and stability of the party.

 

The group made the appeal at a press conference on Wednesday in Abakaliki.

 

The press conference was attended by national leaders of the organisation, including Chief Ugo Chima, the group’s National Chairman, Hyacinth Oteh, National Secretary, Mr Kabiru Umar, Mrs Fati Adams, among others.

 

Chief Egwu Chima, TOPO’s National Publicity Secretary, who addressed the press on behalf of the group, expressed confidence in the ability of Gov. Mai Mala Buni, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee to steer the party to greatness.

 

The group which also pledged support, solidarity and loyalty to the new leadership appealed to the committee to strive to achieve genuine national reconciliation, stability, growth and development of the party.

 

Chima said: “With your committee in place, we now have a regenerated APC which must share the vision of the founding fathers.

 

” TOPO places a very high premium on the capacity of your novel committee to restore growth, development and stability in our great party.

 

“Here, we must continue to thank God daily for the generous gift of President Muhammadu Buhari whose towering and sterling image singles out the party for embrace.

 

“Whatever has transpired within the party in the last few days has been the handiwork of God and the silence of Mr President on the matter is now golden and celebrated.

 

“We are particularly enthused by the composition of the Caretaker Committee, if anything, the political credentials of majority of the members speak volumes.”

 

The group further extolled the leadership and political sagacity of the chairman, who has reiterated his committee’s commitment to ensure justice and peace in the party.

 

Chima quoted Buni as saying: “My plan is all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice, there won’t be peace; I’m a team player.

 

” I have a capable team that can work with me; I am here to manage crisis and if you don’t manage crisis, crisis will manage you.”

 

The group also commended and extolled efforts of Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and the APC South-East leader as well as Chief Bola Tinubu, national leaders of APC in sustaining peace and unity of the party.

NAN recalls that the National Executive Council (NEC) of APC last week approved the setting up of the Gov. Buni- led Caretaker /Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

 

ODO /OU

Edited By: Obike Ukoh (NAN)

 

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Science & Technology

Nigeria to partner Israel on methanol fuel production

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Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Shimon  Shoshan, disclosed this during a courtesy visit to Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, on Monday in Abuja.

Shoshan said Israel would be willing to share its know- how and expertise on methanol fuel technology with Nigeria.

According to the Israeli envoy, the technology is a better alternative to petroleum, as it is cheaper, faster and pollution- free.

 Shoshan said Israel was amenable to learning  from Nigeria’s indigenous technology as well as its progress in oil and gas technology.

Speaking during the visit, Onu said Nigeria was determined to explore and develop the Methanol chemical fuel technology as a key to the economic diversification of the country.

The minister said that for Nigeria to become the manufacturing hub of Africa, it must utilise all its natural resources to add value and create wealth and employment for its teeming youths.

While describing Methanol as a “Wonder Chemical”, Onu said its application would impact positively the power, energy and manufacturing sectors.

He said that with its introduction, Nigeria would soon become the manufacturing hub of Africa.

Onu noted that Nigeria would appreciate the inputs of Israel, to ensure the smooth take-off of the methanol policy.


Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Features

Imperative of looking inwards for COVID-19 containment

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Imperative of looking inwards for COVID-19 containment

, News Agency of Nigeria

Necessity they say is the mother of invention. The current coronavirus disease, with no known cure yet,has compelled many countries to look inwards on how to tackle the pandemic.

Though the mandate of the World Health Organisation (WHO) includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, promoting human health and well being, among other, the current situation required indigenous and home grown approaches.

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, reiterated the need for indigenous approach, when he said that  the current COVID-19 pandemic, will alter the balance of ‘World Economic Order.’

He spoke during a facility visit to the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHETSCO).

Onu said that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Nigeria and other developing countries the need to develop their indigenous technology in order to solve their problems.

The minister was at SHETSCO to inspect its products and inputs into COVID-19 management in Nigeria.

According to  Onu, it is only by developing indigenous technology that Nigeria could defeat poverty and unemployment.

He urged the scientific community to intensify research efforts in order to boost Nigeria’s development.

In his words:“You must continue to research on products, to ensure sustainability and ensure competitiveness of the research products”.

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),  and other research institutes have taken up the challenge to join in the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the mandate of NABDA is to: “ Carry out well-focused research and development in biotechnology in priority areas of food and agriculture, health, industry, environment and other strategic sectors for national development and draw up programmes and policies for biotechnology utilisation, research, and development in Nigeria.’’

Recently, NCDC successfully validated the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.

The validation took place in the laboratory of NABDA in Abuja.

The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, said that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.

“The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.

“The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,’’ Akpa said.

He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.

“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director-general said.

He disclosed that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding from African Development Bank (AfDB).

Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bio-engineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, said he was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to “launch this wonderful project.’’

According to Nnaemeka, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kits which had become a global issue.

He said there were serious concerns for the need to have more extraction kits in-country, and that there was growing demand worldwide for extraction kits.

“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,

The NCDC chief molecular bioengineer said the first phase of the evaluation results he carried out with the NABDA scientific team was “awesome and successful.’’

“The kits compete favourably with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production,’’ Nnaemeka said.

He said that to be able to conduct tests, the viral information which comes as the RNA has to first be extracted and without this extraction, no test can be conducted.

“What will tell you that the virus is there is contained in the RNA, so RNA is required for you to be able to detect COVID-19,’’ he said.

He added that as scientists, they would soon carry out the second phase of the evaluation which would involve real sample of COVID-19.

Similarly, Dr Rose Gidado, the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said the exercise was historic.

She said the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, U.K.

Gidado also disclosed that the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day.

“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,’’ she said.

Gidado added that the project was a partnership involving NABDA, NCDC, Ethiopia, the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom, Plateau, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.

NABDA also stressed that it was  necessary to conduct antibody testing, especially on  casual farm and logistic workers, who serve as interface between farmers and consumers.

NABDA’s Director-General, Akpa, said that the test would help to identify those farm and logistic workers who were carriers of COVID-19 causative agent, and minimise the risk of contamination of farm produce.

He said that farm produce such as cabbage, lettuce, carrot, tomatoes, pepper, mangoes and oranges, among others, intended for the general populace were at risk of contamination.

According to him, it is particularly important and urgent to test these farm hands who are engaged in harvesting these produce in order to make sure that they are COVID-19 free.

The NABDA boss also stated that if such test was not conducted, farm labourers who are infected with the disease could contaminate the vegetables that are moved to the markets and cities.

Akpa also said that the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges, poorly understood globally.

Its management therefore requires innovative approaches and necessitates the invocation of the strategic mandate of NABDA, with special emphasis on development and cutting-edge bio techniques in testing for new cases.

“Starting with immediate interventions that would complement the efforts of the Presidential Task Force(PTF) on COVID-19, NABDA proposes deployment of  a number of its short to medium term in-country capabilities,’’ he said.

The director-general said these included the use of its advanced molecular laboratories in Abuja and Odi, Bayelsa as testing facilities to meet and surpass the presidential target of 4,000  per day.

Akpa also stressed the need to conduct antibody testing to determine the immunity level of the populace, especially the working population.

He emphasised that this would enable the government to generally categorise population vulnerability and specifically delineate the working population into susceptible and resilient sects for reopening of the economy.

Akpa said the antibody testing was designed to assist the country identify citizens that had inherent level of immunity against COVID-19.

The director-general said workers with immunity to the disease were those who could return to work amidst the pandemic to support essential services across all sectors.

“This is particularly important considering the fact that such persons  will constitute the critical mass in the fight against COVID-19, especially in combat against health workers’ infection,’’ he said.

Akpa explained that people who survived the disease had built antibodies and these antibodies could be harvested.

He said the antibody could be harvested from the blood that was obtained from the survivor which could then be multiplied through informatics genetic technology.

Akpa also said the agency was offering to assist the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the NCDC in the sequencing of local isolates of the SARS-CoV-2 which caused COVID-19.

“This service will enable the country to map the sources of the virus strains available in the country.

“It will also help identify likely variations in medical behaviour that will affect response to treatment and vaccine efficiency.

“We are also poised to participate in the WHO COVID-19 vaccine testing programme, scheduled to commence soon in Africa,’’ he said.

Stakeholders say that with collaboration and adequate funding, Nigerian scientists and research institutes, will make valuable contributions in the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.  (NANFeatures)

 **If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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