History was made at the 2018 National Technology and Innovation Expo held at the Eagles Square, Abuja as the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), EbonyiState came third among all tertiary institutions in Nigeria.With the theme “Fast-tracking Sustainable Development in Nigeria through Science and Technology”, the event brought together exhibitors from different sectors of the Nigerian economy who were on hand to showcase their scientific, technological and innovative products to the public.
The Expo held between Monday, 5th to Friday, 9th March, 2018 was the 2nd edition of the event geared towards assessing and bringing to the fore the various innovations and technological contributions of the Nigerian scientists, technologists, researchers and entrepreneurs to its economic development. It also provided an avenue to review the technological innovations of Nigerians in order to ascertain the gaps, make it globally competitive and proffer the way forward for the country’s sustainable development.
The University was represented at the exhibition by a strong 9-man team of researchers drawn from the fields of Science, Engineering and Humanities, led by the Director of Research and Development, Professor Onuegbu O. Ugwu. Nevertheless, the university presented five innovations from which it was adjudged the third best innovative tertiary institution in Nigeria in 2018,coming behind Covenant University and Nigerian Defense Academy, who came first and second respectively.
The five works presented for assessment at the national event were ‘Linquascript: Applying Science to Develop Rapid Functional Literacy’ by Dr. NnennaNwosu-Nworuh; ‘Development of a Fuzzy-Neural Expert System for Contagious Disease Detection and Isolation’ by Engr. Dr. Michael Osigbemeh; ‘Probiotic Potential of Nigerian Fermented Food; PentadethraMacrophylla (Ugba)’ by Dr. Moses N. Aloh; ‘Ecotoxicological Assessment and Agricultural Benefits of Rice Husk Derived Biochar’ by Dr. IhuomaAnyanwu and ‘Consumer Credit, Accessibility and Affordability in Nigeria: Bank-led Financial Inclusion Strategy’ by Dr. OnyebuchiChima. Other FUNAI researchers at the event wereDr. Chukwunonso E. C. C. Ejike, Dr. AzubikeEbokaiwe, Dr. MakuochukwuOjide and Mr. Ukwa Job Nworie.
The works of the university contingent to the expo were highly rated by the organizers’ team of assessors, the media and industry watchers who commended them for their novelty and the high socio-economic impact value of their works. The team of assessors led by the former Director General of Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Professor Peter Onwualu, in particular, commended the FUNAI researchers for their outstanding works, urging them to ensure that their intellectual property were patented to avoid people stealing their novel ideas. They further noted that patenting research works proves its originality and gives sponsors, partners and industrial watchers confident to collaborate with researchers.
At the closing ceremony, the research work of Dr. Nwosu-Nworuh, “Linquascript: Applying Science to Develop Rapid Functional Literacy” was announced by the organizers as an outstanding innovation in the tertiary institutions category. Announcing the prize, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through Professor Onwualu extolled the originality and impact-value of Nwosu-Nworuh’s work, noting that it would help to enhance the functionality of the three major Nigerian languages. He further pointed out that when eventually incorporated into computer keyboards and phone keypads as envisaged by her, the work would improve the speaking and writing of the indigenous languages among the youth and uneducated population especially now that some of the languages are going extinct. They further stressed that the work would put Nigeria on the global map as computer keyboards and phone keypads would now bear the alphabets of Nigerian indigenous languages.
Speaking to the media during the 5-day event, the FUNAI Director of Research and Development, Professor Ugwu noted that the Expo would help in enhancing science, technology and innovations in Nigeria, calling on the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to sustain the yearly technological and innovation exhibitions in order to put the country on a higherdevelopmental pedestal.
He pointed out that the philosophy of research in the university was to think globally and act locally, stressing that all the research works presented by the university at the expo have the capacity to meet international standard even as they also have high local content value and added that FUNAI would continue to make the environment conducive for research and innovation to excel.
He maintained that “the era of carrying out research as only a mere academic exercise without corresponding economic and production value is over”, insisting that “value-driven research is the way to go if the is to compete favourably in the global community.”
The professor of Civil Engineering further urged the Federal Government and various tertiary and research institutions to take research and innovation seriously by investing a substantial part of their budgets in it, noting that the Expo has helped to put research in the front burner in Nigeria.
He further vowed that in the third edition of the Technology and Innovation Expo in 2019 that the university would come first in the category of tertiary institutions, stating that plans were already in top gear to put into action the lessons of the 2nd edition. And thanked the Vice-Chancellor, Professor ChinedumNwajiuba for supporting research in the university and sponsoring the institution’s contingent to the expo despite the financial constraints facing most Nigerian universities, noting that the research team has reciprocated the confidence reposed on them by marking the university proud, being the only Federal and State-owned university in Nigeria that won award at the event.