Leveraging on COVID-19 financial supports to build research infrastructure

ON  29 March, 2020 I was asking about the plans we have as a country to leverage on this pandemic. I saw a list of donations going around. The pledges were more than 25billion naira and none of it was for capacity building or in the slightest for research.

In our president’s speech, I listened over and again to that line where he said we are waiting on the US, China and WHO for vaccine/drug for COVID-19. I wept because our country is estimated at 201 million people. So, we hung our fate on two countries.

Have you wondered why Nigeria is not at the forefront of research to address this pandemic? The reason is because we do not emphasize capacity building and infrastructure. An average Nigerian is reactive, not proactive. We are who we are.

But I counted not less than 25 Professors of Virology in Nigeria, in their different sub-specialties and status of service. I am not aware if any one of them is actively engaged in a research to end this pandemic from our end. We have refused to grow as a nation because we enjoy ‘free money’ which is not altogether free. It kills our potential as a nation.

We have the manpower, I assure you, but we do not have the infrastructure. So, the Alakija family has set the tone for what it means to change gear. Thank you Sir and Madam for thinking that the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Infectious Diseases has a role to play in this fight, beyond COVID-19. The thoughtfulness is appreciated (I, however, still think that 50 million is small, but you have done well Sir and Madam, TETFUND has not awarded more than that to a single research in the most recent history).

*Clue:* Other well-meaning Nigerians should put a part of the money they are donating as COVID-19 support into research infrastructure. Donors should request and ensure stringent accountability procedure to monitor fund management in the beneficiary institutions. We should get ready for the future.

Dr Isaac Adedimeji, Ogun State.



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