“Science walks forward on two feet: theory and experiment….but continous progress is only achieved by the use of both”. (Robert .A. Millikan)
Assuming the Nigerian government has a problem it wants solved, it should fund the right agency with the capability to handle such a task. This agency pools scientists and experts from within and without to undertake a research work and develops a technology that is first of its kind in the world. Nigeria uses this technology to solve its problem – a world problem. Now its our technology-our solution. A solution that the UK, US, Europe and the rest need. I don’t think we would give it out for free. Would we?
The FBI has a special Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit(CFSRU). This unit is tasked with three main goals: the development of new (forensic) capabilities, improvements to existing capabilities and the defesnsibility of current and future capabilities. And who are the members of this unit? Research scientists, program managers, technical and administrative staff. They even have a “Visiting Scientist Program” that involves inviting of highly qualified scientists from outside institutions to complement staff scientists and assist in performing duties consistent with the mission and goals of the FBI.
It is important for us to know that it is a cycle. Government funds research. Research helps the government. More broadly, government fund MDA’s with specific targets or mission to accomplish based on its deficiencies or problems. These agencies empower scientists and experts (with much needed funds) and task them with the responsibility to somehow, come up with solutions that are in the line with their missions and goals. These brain-tanks develop the needed solutions and hand handover to MDAs and to government. The government uses these solutions to help the country. Viola! (Government-Agencies-Researchers-Solutions-Government). Cast your bread upon the waters and it shall return with dividends after many days. Who benefits? Everybody -the researchers deepen their knowledge of the subject matter, the government gets the solutions it wants! Everything -the academic research system, the populace..
The keyword is research. Research all through. Research on what? Biometrics, fingerprints, chemical, biological operational response, digital, electronics.. Name it. Recently, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield when speaking to US House of Rep members on the U.S. strategy to counter Boko Haram said that“we need academics to help us understand the underlying conditions that led to Boko Haram. We need think-tanks to identify creative solutions”.
Nigeria needs to invest its resources in curiosity-driven, competitively awarded basic research. Both government and the private sector have to be fully involved because industry benefits from the research and they make their mass production. Do you know that the US federal government supports 60 percent of the research performed at universities?. According to the American Association of Universities (AAU), “U.S. Colleges and universities perform just 13 percent of total national research and development (R&D) funded by government and the private sector”, but they also “perform 56 percent of the nation’s basic research, an element critical to the success of the overall enterprise.