The Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, says developing vaccines not only for coronavirus disease but for basic health care is critical for Nigeria now than ever.
Mustapha said this on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 in Abuja while responding to questions on his achievements so far, since assuming office in late 2020.
He stated that NABDA was working “hand in hand” with the Cuban Embassy, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other relevant institutions in the country for basic production of vaccines.
“We have formed a research group for malaria; it has commenced work and, fortunately, we are also going to produce malaria vaccines in the country.
“We are going to produce these vaccines, God willing, very soon,’’ he said.
According to the director-general, the agency is engaged in another technology known as tissue culture technology.
He described the technology as modern and comprised many aspects including the combating of desertification with the aid of biotechnology.
Mustapha said he had created an enabling environment to make NABDA the hub of excellence in biotechnology research and development in Africa.
He noted that even with adequate manpower, but without equipment and enabling environment, successful research work would not thrive.
“One most important thing I have done when I came to NABDA is to make sure there is steady supply of water and electricity.
“Without these basic amenities, research cannot be conducive and, now, the laboratories are functioning.
“However, some of the equipment that we are lacking is what we are trying to bring in,’’ Mustapha said.
The director-general noted that the agency was looking at expanding the size of its laboratory, to form a central laboratory that would contain all the basic equipment.
To achieve this, Mustapha said the agency had sent staff members on training while some had returned.
He said that NABDA’s collaborations with multinationals notwithstanding, the agency had engaged many universities.
Mustapha revealed that funds were set aside to invite some researchers from within Nigeria who had common research ideology with the agency.
According to him, NABDA is approaching the African Development Bank and also planning to meet with the ECOWAS.
The director-general said the agency was also planning a collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other multinationals, interested in developing research activities in the country.
“So, we are waxing our strength to see that we have successful collaborations with these people, and we are bringing in stronger team,’’ he said.
Mustapha was optimistic that President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to allocate 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and innovation to accelerate development would come to fruition.
He said the funding would assist the agency to establish more laboratories with more sophisticated equipment that would facilitate the pace in making it the hub of biotechnology research and development.
The director-general stated that NABDA was planning to collaborate with the Kano State Government to realise the governor’s wish for the deployment of biotechnology, to provide fodder for the cattle.
Mustapha said the agency had already sampled the varieties of fodder produced by NABDA to the state.
Another area of collaboration among others was the development of bioresource centre, established by NABDA in Kano State, to facilitate its socioeconomic development.
He noted that during the governor’s visit to the agency earlier in the year, he had toured NABDA and had taken interest in many of the researches they were carrying out.
Mustapha said the management of the agency was invited to Kano State, where they made a presentation to the state’s executive council.
According to him, the collaboration is still intact, and on the verge of taking off.
By Sylvester Thompson