Professor Mosto Onuoha’s address at the 2018 NAS AGM

Distinguished Fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Ladies and Gentlemen!!
Welcome to the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Academy. We are grateful to the Almighty God for sparing our lives and for making it possible not only for us to survive the past year, 2017, but also for granting us journey mercies as we came from across the lengths and breadths of this country for this AGM. You will appreciate what God has done for us and our families when you consider the fact that five of our Fellows went to the great beyond in the past one year, meaning that those cherished fellows, colleagues and friends of ours can longer join us in meetings like this. At this point, I would like to officially inform you of the demise of the following Fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Science since our last AGM in January 2017:

i. Prof. Bede Okigbo, who died on March 31st 2017;
ii. Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, who called back on June 5th 2017;
iii. Prof. Vincent Olunloyo, 13th October, 2017;
iv. Prof. Andrew Nok, 21st November 2017; and
v. Prof. Lateef Salako, 8th December 2017.
May I at this point request us all to kindly rise for a moment of silent prayers for the families of these late eminent colleagues and friends. May the Lord God Almighty grant their families the fortitude to bear the loss they have suffered! Amen.
A Quick Overview of our Achievements in the Past Year
At my investiture as your President last year, I promised that with Council’s support, my immediate attention would be primarily drawn towards tackling some of the following issues:
1) Moving forward with the NAS Bill before the National Assembly.
2) Reviewing our then expiring Strategic Plan (2013-2017) and putting in place a new one for the period 2018-2022.
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3) Going ahead with plans for the establishment of a permanent headquarters for NAS at the nation’s
capital (i.e. getting the C of O for the land already allocated to us, and getting some work started at
the site).
4) Getting more and more Fellows involved in the activities of the Academy.
5) Collaborating with the Science Association of Nigeria and other scientific societies.
6) Successfully celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of NAS and hosting of the 13th
Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA-13) in Abuja in November, 2017.
7) Sustaining our relationship with the Nigerian Young Academy.
8) Addressing the imbalance in the distribution of specialties in the Academy.
9) Meeting our vision and maintaining societal relevance.
10) Increasing the visibility of NAS in the nation space.
I would like to inform our Fellows that the past one year was indeed a very eventful one for the Academy.
Apart from carrying out our usual activities like inducting ten new Fellows in the month of May, 2017,
holding media briefings, and releasing some new publications, we were fairly successful in carrying out
most of the activities listed above.
We celebrated forty years of the existence of NAS and successfully hosted the 13th Annual Meeting of the
African Science Academies (AMASA-13). Both events took place at the nation’s capital in Abuja and were
very well attended by Fellows and participants from twenty eight African countries. There were of course
participants from some other nations outside Africa, e.g. the United Kingdom, USA and New Zealand.
Some of the highlights of these events are captured in the 2017 Annual Report which will soon be made
available you.
One of the first assignments that the NAS Executive Committee embarked upon shortly after the last
Council was constituted was the preparation of a new Strategic Plan (2018-2022) for the Academy. This
task was necessary because the previous one (2013-2017) was about to expire. This new Strategic Plan is
largely finalized and will soon be sent out to Fellows for their comments and input before being published.
Council also urgently took up the matter of getting the NAS Bill passed by the National Assembly – a task
that has featured on the agenda of each NAS Council over the last decade without tangible success. I am
happy to inform Fellows that the draft Nigerian Academy of Science bill in the course of the year 2017
successfully went through and was eventually passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What is left now for it to become law is the assent of the President and
Head of State and we are reasonably assure that this will soon happen.
In the course of the past year, we were eventually also able to secure from the relevant office of the Minister
of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Certificate of Occupancy for the land earlier allocated to NAS
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for its permanent secretariat in the nation’s capital. Council has started working out the modalities for
commencing some level of work at the site to establish ownership of the property.
Looking back into our activities in the past year, one can say that there are still other areas where our
performance was not as good as we would have wished. We therefore have to work extra hard in order to
achieve better results in those areas. In this respect I am referring the issue of maintaining societal relevance
and increasing our visibility in the nation space. We need to evolve better strategies for achieving these and
Council has considered and approved some of the options that have been put forward, e.g.: –
i. Sending Out Fellows as Emissaries of NAS to Universities as Guest Lecturers
A good number of our colleagues in many Nigerian universities know very little about the activities of
NAS. In order to change this situation and stir up greater interest in NAS membership, particularly in underrepresented
zones, it is important that we take our activities to different parts of the country. This is a matter
that Council has already been discussing from time to time, and the cost implications seem to be the only
constraint. While we wait for our finances to improve so that we will be in a position to hold a lot more
activities during the year and move such activities round the country, it has been approved by Council that
one of the ways that we can use to increase our visibility in the nation, generate more interest in NAS,
particularly among students and the younger generation, and achieve some of our stated objectives, e.g.
sharing knowledge, and bringing the gains of science and technology nearer to our people is to sponsor
Fellows who are willing and available to universities round the country to serve as Guest Lecturers in
relevant Faculties.
The lecture to be delivered will be in the Fellow’s area of specialisation and on a topic of interest. NAS will
be responsible for the transport expenses and also provide an allowance to help meet lecture material
preparation. The receiving university would be expected to provide accommodation as may be required
(maximum of two days). During the lecture the Fellow/Guest Lecturer is expected to start off by providing
information about NAS (history, vision and mission, mode of admission into NAS Fellowship, etc.) to the
audience before going on to the subject matter of the lecture. This project is taking of immediately and
interested Fellows are hereby requested to contact the Secretariat for more details.
ii. The NAS Gold Medal for Science
The NAS Gold Medal Prize for Science has now been put in place and Council has approved the report of
the NAS Science Prize Committee which after going through the entries for the year 2017 has now produced
a winner for the prize for the year under the Physical Sciences Branch. Entries for 2018 will be for those in
the Biological Sciences. We expect a growing amount of publicity yearly from these events.
iii. Increased activities at Sectional Committee Levels
Council has decided that the Academy should now be more proactive in our response to issues relevant to
science, technology and innovation in the country. Our plan is to involve the Sectional Committees a lot
more in our desire to provide evidence-based advice to affect policy determination in the country. With the
active participation of our Fellows, we intend to make efforts to boost our financial base by competing for
funded projects, and collaborating with funding agencies to organize workshops and execute projects.
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iv. State of Science in the Nation
Sectional Committees are being requested to make input through their respective Academic Secretaries
on the President’s address to the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the nation on the state of
science in Nigeria in 2017. All submissions will be expected to come in before the end of June 2018 so
that the final report can be made ready for submission to Government in October 2018.
v. Seminars, Workshops and Roundtables on Specific Issues of Interest in STI
There are plans to convene workshops and hold seminars and/or roundtables on topical issues during the
year. Fellows are invited to offer suggestions to add to those already received, which include
workshops/seminars on:
1. Development of a strategic approach to research publishing in Nigeria.
2. Forum on geoscience education and training in Nigeria.
3. The state of renewable energy research in Nigeria.
4. Assessing Nigeria’s preparedness for tackling climate change induced hydrologic hazards.
Concluding Remarks
Finally, I would like to appreciate the members of Council of the Academy for their dedication and work
rate. I have worked with very committed and dedicated Fellows. Our Secretariat staff have been very
supportive. Staff on the ground are lean in strength, for we lost through voluntary resignation of
appointment some key dedicated staff that have to be replaced soon enough so that our operations are not
hampered unduly. Council is already making efforts to deal with this matter.
As I reminded all of us last year when I first took office, the Academy belongs to all of us and needs the
intellectual, professional, moral, and financial contribution of every Fellow. The nation needs NAS even if
the powers that be do not always appear to recognize this. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve
you as President. It is an awesome responsibility, and by God’s grace, the Academy will wax stronger year
by year. Things are certainly getting better, but we must all join hands and work hard to achieve our
collective vision and mission.
God bless you all!
K. Mosto Onuoha, FAS, FNMGS, fnape
President
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geoscience
University of Nigeria, Nsukka