Innovation in agriculture key to survival, dev. – Obasanjo

2022 joint winner of The Nigeria Prize for Science, Dr Shehu Ado; NLNG’s Deputy MD, Olalekan Ogunleye; joint winner Dr Muhydideen Oyekunle; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; joint winner Dr Sesan Peter Ayodele; NLNG’s MD Philip Mshelbila; and joint winner Dr Emmanuel Olatomilola at the NLNG Grand Award Night in Lagos

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said innovation in agriculture is key to human survival and development.

Obasanjo said this at the Grand Award Night for the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Literature, Science and Literary Criticism, organised by the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) on Friday in Lagos.

He emphasised the need to encourage innovations in food security, eradication of hunger and poverty, secure raw materials for domestic and foreign exchange so as to see the nation develop.

“Way back when humans were primarily hunters, they saw the need to cultivate and grow plants and livestock for sustenance, and then as exchange for other goods.

“With increased success, cottage industries bloomed and that principle of survival has still not changed after millions of years,” Obasanjo said.

He expressed delight at NLNG’s choice of science prize theme, ‘Innovations in Food Security,’ describing it as appropriate.

“As a farmer, I am really impressed with NLNG’s choice of this year’s science prize theme being ‘Innovations in Food Security.’

“In my view, agriculture is the most ancient and proven industry for mankind.

“What I am saying is that agriculture is synonymous with human survival and development.

“We need to encourage innovations in food security, eradicate hunger and poverty, secure raw materials for domestic and foreign exchange, and we will see the nation develop,” said Obasanjo.

He thanked the Board of Directors and Management of NLNG for the achievements recorded by the company over the years as a corporate entity, contributing to nation-building since May 1989.

“I have had the joy of witnessing NLNG’s coming-of-age story; in your maturity, you seek to pull our nation to the height you have attained.

“I enjoin all stakeholders to support NLNG in all its aspirations to help in building a better Nigeria,” the former president said.

Obasanjo also praised the NLNG for its vision to be a globally competitive LNG company helping to build a better Nigeria.

“NLNG helps in Nigeria’s development, particularly, through its flagship, corporate social responsibility initiative – the ‘Nigeria Prize for Literature, the Nigeria Prize for Science and the ‘Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.’

“We can adopt world-class best practices and leap with giant strides into the future.

“We can collaborate on exchange of ideas and invest in research and development.

“We can focus on the education and mental development of our people so that we position the nation for the direction it should go,” said the former president.

In his address, Dr Philip Mshelbila, MD Nigeria LNG Ltd., said NLNG, in its 33 years of existence, had become a world-class company and was actively seeking its place in the future.

“What the future holds, may in some views, be left to time and chance, but we do know from the experiences of others, that when we future-proof our business, we get a say as to what should be beyond,” he said.

Mshelbila remarked that within the energy transition landscape, NLNG would be rightly positioned to make Nigeria a global giant.

“Furthermore, in deepening our resolve for Domestic LPG intervention, we received the support and approval of the Board of NLNG, to commit 100 per cent of our LPG production to the Nigerian market.

“While we compete globally with other LNG companies, our vision is balanced when we help to build a better Nigeria.

“It is in this line of envisioning, that the Nigeria Prizes for Literature and Science, were birthed,” he said.

According to him, the NLNG has always been at the forefront of stakeholder partnerships that strengthen Nigeria, its people and their sustainable future.

Explaining details of the award, the NLNG boss said the company chose to sponsor the ‘Nigeria Prize for Literature’ and the ‘Nigeria Prize for Science,’ with monetary awards of 100,000 dollars each.

“The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism has an award of N1,000,000.

“The overall intent of these, is to place a bar of excellence and shun mediocrity in creativity and innovation,” said the NLNG boss.

This year, he said NLNG chose to celebrate the poetry genre.

According to him, a record 288 poetry submissions were received, out of which 11 entries were long-listed and later, three were finally shortlisted from where the winner emerged.

“I congratulate the shortlist of three; Romeo Oriogun, S’ueddie Agema and Saddiq Dzukoji,” he said.

Mshelbila explained that the Nigeria Prize for Science this year was about food security.

He said the United Nations Committee on World Food Security defined food security as a situation wherein all people, at all times, had physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that met their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the recipients of the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Science were Dr Muhydideen Oyekunle and Dr Shehu Ado as well as Dr Sesan Ayodeji and Dr Emmanuel Olatomilola.

Their works are entitled: ‘Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivars under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions’ as well as ‘Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour,’ respectively.

Minister of Science and Technology, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, Amb. Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and representatives of Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police were among dignitaries at the Grand Award Night. (NAN)