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Science, Technology In Agricultural Development

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The role of science and technology in the quest for the best method of improving the yield  of crops, protecting crops against diseases and pest, making livestock  healthy all the time, designing the best method of crops storage  and even helping  in predicting the climate  conducive for agricultural practice  can not be over emphasised.

As we know, the use of agricultural  equipment and machineries help to making  farming  and other agricultural  practice easier for the farmer. In the advanced countries of Northern America and Western Europe, agricultural mechanisation is the order of the day. A lecturer in   American university could, in addition to his  leading job own and supervise a poultry complex of about 5,000 birds or more. In the same vein, two farmers  could supply the pork needed for a  town of 25,000 population. Farmer get attached to banks and get financed to large agricultural ventures. The farmers employ experts with agricultural  and management skills and exposures.

For those who venture into risky areas like poultry and piggery, efforts  are made to seek the services of pathologists to ensure that the health of these animals and birds are properly taken care of, proper insurance are taken to  ensure that where sudden mortality arise, the risk is spread. It is through science and research that better methods of improving the yield of crops are ensured.

Before  1989, local farmers had been used to harvest the local cassava species that were prevalent, only few farmers were used to improved cassava  varieties within that year but something sudden happened. Most of the local varieties were  no more doing well and thus  the mortality rate was high. Food became scarce and the price of a basin of garri rose to between N3,000.00 to N4,000.00 Garri  started  being sold at one cup for one naira. Many families could not afford it as some supplemented with corn flour, which was cheaper.

The only way out was  that  most farmers moved  to adopting the improve yield variety (IYV) and resistant variety. Luckily, Onuanwo was ready to assist the entire state and beyond as people from different parts of the state and  beyond moved to Onuanwo for tuber and stem.

Crop protection is very vital in agriculture. Disease affects plants and leads to delay in metabolic  activities, stunted growth, shedding of  flowers and fruits and sometimes the actual death of the plant. Cultural and chemical control are most of the time used. Culturally, crop rotation is adopted, burning remains after harvesting, regular weeding of the soil, proper spacing of crops using  of high yielding and resistant varieties and  practicing  of irrigation during  dry season are adopted.

 The use of chemical control is the result of research. Though  certain side effects are associated with certain chemicals, it still remains   that one of the most effective ways of reducing  pathogens,  fungicides are used  to controlled fungal diseases. These includes lime, cumin copper, Bordeaux mixture etc. Bacterial  diseases are control by certain antibiotics like cuprous axide (copper  oxide), certain dust from mercury, copper and sulphur. Since viral diseases are difficult  to  eradicate  certain insecticides they are used to control the insect vector transmitting the viral pathogens.

Also nematodes are controlled with infanticide like Nemagon, Vapan D-D and methyl bromide. We are fully aware that  without vehicles, engine  powered boats, aeroplane and other means of  transport like motor cycles, bicycles, wheel barrow and trucks, it will be difficult to transport raw materials  to the farm for planting or harvest  crops   from the place of production to the market  for sale.

Those mentioned of technical  means of transportation are very important in agriculture and without them, the production and evacuation of food will be very difficult. In advanced countries and few of the developing nations a eroplanes are used for spraying  particularly, when locust are seen to be devastating hundreds  of hectres of  farmland.

Good roads that  are tarred help in the evacuation of foodstuffs from the hinterland to the urban areas or others areas  where they are needed. The  use of different types of vehicles as were mentioned before  are catalysts  towards the realization of those lofty goals.

Science and research help in reducing  hand-wiping off animal disease which are inimical to proper animal production the world over. Some of these diseases and pests include foot and mouth disease, cattle  plague, newcastle  disease, mad cow  disease  (Ebola disease) tuberculosis, anthrax, bovine mastitis, fowl pox, cocotchiosis, aspergillusis, ringworm, tape worm, roundworm, tick etc.

With the advice of agricultural and veterinary  experts, the problem of farm animal will always be solved Large farm holdings even in Northern States of Nigeria have veterinary clinics that are well  stocked with drugs, vaccines, etc. building engineers develop farm building  like pens for livestock,  and pigs, silo, cribs  for storage  and even the construction of dams to supply water and  electricity to agricultural  establishments and the masses.

Even in Nigeria, the adoption of fertilizer  in our agricultural  system especially in the savannah and the Sahel area of the country has helped to boost yields. Right from the establishment  of NAFCON at Onne, the use of fertilizer had gained ground in this country.

Nigerian farmers particularly those in the  Northern states have utilised  the fertilizer  produced scientifically in Nigeria for the improvement of their agricultural inputs. Infact, modern farming can not perform well if the inputs of science and technology are not utilised.

Lastly, the Agricultural Development programme  (ADP), is research oriented. It is one of the duties to teach their staff the latest  research in  agriculture. These staff would pass on these to the local farmers practically, to boost food production after the floods.

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Opinion

FG, ASUU Have Done Well

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It was cheering news last December, when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) suspended the strike it embarked upon for over 8 months.
Their grievances ranging from Federal Government’s non-implementation of 2009 agreement which bothers on issues of earned allowances, payment system and revitalisation of the universities.
At the end of the day, no victor, no vanquished. Both ASUU and FG shifted grounds and came to an agreement which led to the call off of the strike that almost took one academic session.
Although the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the number of months University teachers and students spent at home.
Late last year, the Federal Government had announced the closure of all schools on the 18th of December 2020 and that schools’ resumption at every level should be on the 18th of January, 2021. Some states who were proactive had already resumed earlier than that date. While other states, including their universities have reopened, a lot more after deliberations with their university Senate have decided to resume  later this month and early February.
While ASUU and their universities authorities were taking their time to review their academic calendars, last week, issue  of how to cope with COVID-19 pandemic while at work came up by ASUU.
Yes every normal person will think of that especially with the crowd in our universities. A situation where you have a lecture hall of about 200 to 300 students.
This should not be another subject to be discussed that will make teachers and students to go home again. COVID-19 was there while ASUU and FG were deliberating on the issues of 2009 agreement. Issue of how to cope with the disease should have come up and be trashed while others were being handled.
While ASUU was on strike, private universities had academic activities going on, although some of them have been operating online. Those who had physical lecture have been coping like the universities that never joined the industrial action.
Even public primary and secondary schools in Rivers State here, had been running staggered programmes since resumption. While some and their teachers come in the morning session, others engage in afternoon session according to government’s directive.
If pupils at Kindergarten, secondary classes and their teachers could cope with all the measures put in place, university teachers and their undergraduates can equally cope.
Every university has a Health Bay, the staff and relevant faculties and departments on campus should set up those required equipment and materials beginning from the university gates.  Use of face masks made compulsory and ensure that every building -classrooms, hostels, cafeteria, banks, name them, have their own equipment where members of the university community can wash hands regularly.
In fact, we are looking upto our universities in search of prevention and cure for this deadly disease. Departments like bio/chem, medical laboratory science, college of medicine and the likes  can produce hand sanitizers which can be distributed to the university community for use. At least, let’s practise non-pharmaceutical measures before relevant authorities come up with the vaccines.
Universities where we have Home Economics Departments should get fabrics, construct and sew various shapes of face masks and should be sold at lower rates to generate funds in campus.
Members of ASUU can also provide for their members because many labour unions provided for their members.
Some of the tertiary institutions that never joined the ASUU strike were able to cope with the COVID-19 protocols.
Sometime in August last year, Basic 9 and Senior Secondary School (SSS3) students and their tutors were allowed to sit for their BECE and SSCE  complying with the protocols.
In September and October last year, primary and secondary schools nationwide reopened and completed 3rd term of 2019/2020 academic session, started and concluded 1st term of 2020/2021 academic year observing all COVID-19 protocols.
Universities should ensure that all necessary COVID-19 protocols and orders are strictly adhered to.  Adequate precautions should be maintained so that the lives of the students and lecturers will be saved.
Since there were already strategies and protocols as well as orders in place in primary and secondary schools since last year when ASUU was on strike, let ASUU and their universities resume and all those protocols and orders be observed with utmost strictness.
Staggered resumption can also be practised in the universities as is practised in the primary and secondary schools.
A lot of time has been spent on argument of 2009 agreement while private universities have been running their academic calendars without stress.
It is so worisome to note that 2019/2020 academic session has suffered setback, 2020/2021 admission is still being withheld. What is the hope of Nigerian public universities? Will these incessant strike actions help our undergraduates?
It is more than 10 years now this issue of 2009 agreement between FG and ASUU began. Almost every year, it comes up as if it has never been tackled before. It is high time the two parties had concluded because it is not helping our university system.
Every year, while their counterparts in private schools are moving on, undergraduates in public universities are sitting at home while parents have already paid school fees. The of-campus students who paid rent last year have lost that to their landlords. Most parents with the harsh economy cannot send their wards to private universities. Of course, it is the right of the children to acquire education.
It is also annoying that a budget made for a child for a course of study for four to five years will run for six or seven years while other children are waiting.
I call on ASUU to accept whatever the FG has offered so as to go back to work. It can also be reviewed from time to time if they are not satisfied. Rome, they say was not built in a day.
Apart from the fund ASUU is asking from the FG, universities can also make up from internally generated revenue, after all University education is not free. Money is raised from school fees annually so university authorities should ensure proper use so that some of the issues they are asking for can be settled.
While we commend FG for paying withheld salaries of some of them, we equally urge the government to clear the backlog of those remaining so that ASUU can concentrate on academic matters.

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Opinion

Limits Of Sanctimony

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The Tide Editorial Comment of Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, contained the following statement: “We have been encumbered with irresponsible leadership and governments down the ages till date; people who have neither the capacity, will, nor passion to give Nigerians good governance …”
In situations of “carry-go”, privatized or buccaneer governance, resort to mendacity, cryptocracy and bamboozlement feature prominently. This is also coupled with brazen intimidation and use of hired agents to cause mayhem and get away unpunished.
There were public protests across the country over acts of intimidation and unprofessional conducts of personnel of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Police, which were justifiable reactions of the Nigerian public. One of the responses to the protests was to inject hired agents to engage in counter protests of solidarity with the establishment. Thus, peaceful and legitimate protests turned hostile and violent, resulting in calling our armed troops to bring peace and stability.
In the first place, members of the profession of violence denied being at the scene of violence in Lagos, then followed by a public testimony that “live-bullets were never used and soldiers fired into the air only.” Then anyone talking about “massacre” is given the challenge of producing dead bodies, to prove that any one was killed. This is similar to a head of government asking any citizen with complaints about corruption to present such cases in “chapters and verses” before such complaints can be considered credible. He who alleges, must prove beyond all doubts!!
Damage-control antics of issuing threats to those who make complaints that tarnish the good image of the establishment should, at least, wear the cloak of credibility. Apart from such threat of sanction to the CNN on its report of what happened in Lagos during EndSARS protests, damage-control antics also include diverting attention away from the key issue at stake. Let us not make an ass of ourselves as a nation in our dealing with the international community. We have already been known as wearing the cloak of sanctimony or resorting to aggression when confronted with our real image. We rarely go wrong!
There are many examples of how we stand logic or credibility on its head, when defending the integrity of the government in power. Taking the defection of Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State, from PDP to APC, as one such examples, there is the obvious truth that such defection bears neither patriotism nor service as ultimate goal. Past cases of similar actions indicate the search for greener pastures as a political culture without personal conviction, or an artful means of dodging possible corruption allegations. Governors of southern parts of Nigeria appear to be fruitful targets!
Attitude of the establishment towards national security provides us another example, with special reference to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) being given the tag of a terrorist group while Boko Haram is free from such label. The same attitude, depictive of double standards, also plays out in Zamfara gold being private mineral resource, while the oil and gas of the Niger Delta zone are public resources. Political interpretations and implications of these and other issues have far-reaching consequences.
Fears arising from intimidation and tolerance of social injustices may have very wide elasticity, but they also have some safe limits which should not be abused or glossed over. Abuse of power through intimidation and suppression come in the range of political obtuseness and insensitiveness. Experiences of the Nazi regime and the defunct Soviet Union provide ample learning opportunity with regards to how abuses of power and the wearing of the cloak of sanctimony end in ignominy. Individuals and humanity generally grow wiser through experiences, especially very painful ones.
Another example of the use of damage-control antics to maintain the air of sanctimony, is the hide-and-seek politics of the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The Federal Government used the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as a trump card in a 2009 agreement or pact which went far beyond payroll matters. In place of IPPIS, ASUU designed a home-grown University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), but the strategy of chasing shadow rather than confront substance came to an end, thanks to ASUU’s stubbornness.
The real issue that kept university lecturers on strike since March 23, 2020, was a 2009 pact with the Federal Government which had not been implemented fully. A similar failure on the part government in the past gave rise to a legal theory of Imperfect Obligation, but this time around IPPIS provided an excuse for failure to fulfill an obligation. The real issue is sustainability of public universities in Nigeria through adequate funding so that tertiary education is not debased in Nigeria.
Nigerian university lecturers had raised alarm long ago that paying Nigerian senators four times the remuneration of the US President would run this nation aground eventually. ASUU had warned long ago that the political structure foisted on Nigerians by the military was a time-bomb that should be redressed. Nigeria’s political economy took its present turn because of clandestine arrangements to turn oil and gas mineral resources into a game of monopoly. Non-sustainability of the prevailing arrangements can be recognized easily by anyone who is not compromised or bamboozled.
Another looming danger is the growing national debts facilitated by borrowing and lavish spending. Anybody who is perceptive enough would know that the oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta zone provide collateral for current borrowings. Is the future of some geo-political zones not being mortgaged indirectly? What is the pattern of utilization of the loans being taken now, vis-a-vis the transparency of benefits to various sectors of the nation? What has made it so hard for Nigerian refineries to be functional. No accountability?
A study of nations that mismanaged their resources, the goodwill and confidence of their citizens and then resorted to sanctimony rather than penitence, would show that sustainability dwindles gradually. The limits of sanctimony become clearly visible as the masses groan in silence and hunger, in the midst of obscene opulence. It is not too late yet to put things in order, if the sincere will to do so is there. Mafia managers don’t get off the tiger’s back!
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Securing Our Artefacts

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Culture consists of the beliefs, way of life, art and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society; the attitudes and beliefs about things that are shared by a particular group of people.
In another definition, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the living dictionary, defines culture as activities that are related to art, music, literature and a society that existed at a particular time in history. Culture is as old as history. History cannot be complete without the culture of a people.
The African continent was known to be the home of culture. So many ancient art works in Africa had illicitly been taken away to other continents of the world. Illicit trafficking of cultural materials from Africa is because of non-documentation of art works produced by Africans. So many artifacts were illegally taken away by the colonial masters who colonised the African continent. Some artifacts of cultural value were forcefully transported out of Africa without the consent of the sculptors, artists or even the native communities.
Museum setting and management is a major problem in preserving the ancient art works produced some centuries ago. According to Binkat Manji Jennifer, a well-documented collection can never be achieved without important activities such as numberings. Since the aim of any museum documentation system is to attain a standardised format that would assist in safe-guarding and tracing collections then the aspect of numbering is inevitable.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments should step up to its functions in protecting and preserving cultural materials or artifacts by Nigerian artists. There were so many art works in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country without documentation and this has caused extinction of cultural materials in some well-known cultures in the country.
Cultural materials, in some cases, are not preserved by the people who use them. Today, the orientation and preservation of cultural materials are given prompt attention. And that is why many Nigerian artists are not celebrated in the country.
It is important for museums to know where the objects are at every given point in time as well as who has them. Cultural materials are trafficked to every part of the world without control. It is sad. There is no proper control or preservation of cultural materials in Nigeria.
The illicit trafficking of artifacts from Africa to the Western world has been on the increase, especially in this 21st Century. One of the reasons for trafficking of cultural materials to other parts of the world without traces is because the materials have no historical ownership.
For instance, the Last Supper Painting of Jesus Christ and his disciples is credited to a world class painter, Leonard Da Vinci, because of documentation carried out at that time. It is obvious that most of the sculptural pieces and paintings in Africa were not assigned or credited to certain artists.
The works of the Nok Culture, Ife Art, Benin Art and Igbo Ukwu did not have specific artists attached to them. Rather, they are seen as general art works of particular groups. But in Europe, most of the artifacts can be traced to the artists who did them. This is the problem of historical non-documentation in African society.
Examples of bad conditions on objects indeed, missing art objects appear incomplete due to areas that have been broken off, probably in the course of excavation of pottery items or broken while in transit. Some parts of objects that have broken off must not be thrown away in the course of exhibition; these parts can equally be displayed. Every part of an art work is important to the artist.
In 2019, the Last Supper Painting of Da Vinci was auctioned in Europe for millions of dollars.
The federal, state and the local governments in Nigeria should protect and promote artworks made in the country. A situation where cultural materials are illegally taken away at the mercy of the artists should be discouraged.
Most countries in the world preserve their ancient relics in their national museums. Museums in France can boast of artifacts that have existed for more than one thousand years. Nigerian artists should be empowered by government to give them a sense of belonging.
Indeed, there is no ethnic group without cultural materials. But today, some ethic groups cannot identify or see their cultural materials in real life. Some had been taken to foreign lands where their origin cannot be traced. Say no to illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts.
Ogwuonuonu wrote from Port Harcourt.

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