The First Lady of Ondo State, Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu has advocated the application of Nanotechnology to improve virtually every aspect of human life, ranging from agriculture, medicine, climate, among others.
She was partiçular about the use of nanodevices for early detection of cancer, reduction of food scarcity, and protection of climate.
She said this at the fourth African Nano Conference organised by the Nano Research Group of University of Nigeria, UNN, Nsukka Enugu State.
She said: “According to the National Cancer Institute, nanotechnology provides new molecular contrast agents and materials to enable earlier and more accurate initial diagnosis as well as continuous monitoring of treatment of cancer patients. We have seen nanoparticles being used in numerous medical screens and providing gold standard rapid pregnancy tests which are easy to use by women in the comfort of the home. We expect to see the same for a disease such as breast cancer which is the leading cause of all cancer related deaths among women globally.
“The invention of nanodevices which can capture blood-borne biomarkers including cancer-associated proteins and circulating tumour cells will end the battle of early detection and diagnosis of any type of cancer”.
As an aquaculturist, Mrs Akeredolu emphasised the unending opportunities nanotechnology can bring to fish farming and fisheries management to reduce food scarcity and ending protein-energy malnutrition, especially among children.
According to her, the local fish farmers faced a number of challenges ranging from reproduction and prevention and treatment of diseases; noting that, undoubtedly, nanotechnology can revolutionize fish farming.
Mrs Akeredolu who was a Special Guest of honour at the event, and alumnus of the institution, further averred that nanotechnology would help prevent environmental degradation, and climate change, especially in the African continent that is still largely run by fossil-fuel, a major cause of climate change.
“For example, nanomaterials are known to exhibit unique durability properties against mechanical stress or weathering which can increase the useful life of a product. The direct result of such innovation is a reduction in waste generation and environmental degradation. In fact, nanotechnology has been used to improve solar panel efficiency as well as reduce the cost of installation and maintenance. These are clear indications of what benefits can accrue in terms of energy and environmental management through nanotechnology”, she asserted.
The Founder of the BEMORE EMPOWERED INITIATIVE FOR GIRLS, therefore, called for a political will on the part of the Governments at all level to take advantage of these nanotechnology opportunities to better the nation, and deliberately earmark funds and significant investments in nanotechnology research.
She further enjoined that the indigenous nanoexperts must be encouraged by all means, while describing the conference as a tip of the iceberg in the development of nanotechnology; and emphasised the importance of keeping the momentum by encouraging collaborations with other institutions both in Nigeria and internationally.
“We hope to see nanoscience as a course of study in our institutions of learning just like every other course. If our universities can begin to churn out graduates of nanoscience through conventional study programmes, we can only expect to see positive outcomes in the nation’s developmental strides”, said Mrs Akeredolu.
She informed the gathering that, her passion to initiate BEMORE, STEM program for young girls which aims at bridging the gender gap in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and Solar Renewable Energy fields, was a means of catching them young rather than talking without action.
She reiterated her commitment to incorporate the application of Nanotechnology to some of her initiatives to further improve the Nigerian society.
The Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof Charles Igwe expressed readiness of the institution to utilize the outcome of the conference in its drive to promote science and technology for nation building.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnia Onu commended UNN for its untiring commitment towards promoting nanotechnology through research activities, and expressed optimism that participants would garner enormous knowledge in nanotechnology to contribute to the development of health, agriculture and other areas of life.
A guest lecturer, Prof Wole Soboyejo who described breast cancer as a significant challenge, highlighted some approaches to apply nanodevices to the detection, treatment of the disease, covid-19, and nanomaterials to life generally.
He identified a novel use of magnetic fields and magnetic particles to deliver therapeutic drugs for patients.
The funder of the fourth Nano conference, and Managing Director of OilServ Limited Group of Companies, Dr. Emeka Okwuosa noted that his continuous support for the organiser was due to the commitment of the Research Group to provide alternative modern technology to solve societal problems.
Commenting on the theme of the conference, ‘Nanotechnology: A springboard for national development’, the OilServ boss who was represented by Engr Chuka Eze, expressed optimism that research and development in nanotech would play a leading role in putting Nigeria ok the global map of scientific and technological achievements.
The Chairman of the occasion, Arc. (Dr), Edward Nkwegu OFR affirmed that nanotechnology is significantly promoting the revolutionisation of many other technologies and industrial sectors.
The event had speakers from across the globe including Prof. Emmanuel Iwuoha of the university of Western Cape, South Africa, Prof Kenneth Ozoemena University of the Witwatersrand, Prof Rose Osuji, the Chair of Nano Research Group UNN, among others.
Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation concerned with building ‘things’ – generally, materials and devices – on the scale of atoms and molecules.