The Federal Government has set up a committee to look into claims by some Nigerians who are insisting that they have found the cure for the COVID-19 disease.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed this in a lecture presented to participants of the Senior Executive Course No. 42, 2020, of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State.
The address was delivered through Skype from the minister’s office in Abuja.
Onu, in the address, said the implementation of both the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Product Development in Nigeria, and the Presidential Executive Order No. 5, saved “nearly one trillion naira” for Nigeria in two years.
He also said recent policies formulated by the ministry would serve as blueprint for a ‘post-crude oil’ Nigerian economy.
The minister had, on February 13, announced a N36m cash prize for any Nigerian who could find a cure for the coronavirus disease and Lassa fever.
Several organisations and individuals have since then come out with claims that they have a cure for COVID -19, a disease which is currently ravaging Nigeria and other countries in the world.
Onu explained that the committee that would review the claims comprises Fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Science, the country’s apex body of scientists.
“You will recall that on 13th February, 2020, I challenged Nigerian scientists to find cure for the COVID-19 disease, and pledged a financial reward of N36m.
“Since then, many institutions and individuals have written us claiming their research results and natural products can cure the COVID-19.
“Accordingly, a committee comprising Fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Science will help us review these claims,” Onu said.
The minister, who declared that Nigeria will “surprise the world” very soon through deployment of home-grown science, technology and innovation, said the Federal Government, through the ministry, was “working for home-grown solutions” to problems relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stressing the need for Nigerians to embrace indigenous solutions, he noted that “the best approach is to solve our problems ourselves, instead of depending on others to do it for us.”
He spoke of the need for Nigerians to believe in themselves and rediscover ancient knowledge utilised by their forefathers in order to become masters of their destiny and contribute to world civilisation.
“Our agencies in the ministry are working to provide indigenous solutions to problems created by this pandemic.
“The time has come for us to believe in ourselves.
“For too long, we allowed other people to think for us, telling us what to do and what not to do.
“The priceless wisdom, accumulated over several centuries, that helped our ancestors understand and adequately adapt and dominate their environment, was disrespected, disregarded and discarded.
“We were treated as if we had little or no history. We must start today to look up, but never again to allow anybody to make us look down on ourselves,” Onu said.
With Nigeria facing a steady decline in revenue due to the sharp fall in the price of crude oil, Onu said the exportation of home-grown solutions developed by Nigerians could become a major source of foreign exchange for the country.
The minister, in the same vein, stressed that Nigeria should plan to take advantage of opportunities which will arise from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, the pandemic will lead to the fall and rise of countries, depending on how prepared they are to take advantage of the opportunities that it will bring.