The Federal Government on Thursday announced a 36m cash prize for any Nigerian that finds cure for coronavirus and Lassa fever.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, announced the reward while speaking at the send forth party organised in honour of the former director of Chemical Technology in the ministry, who recently retired.
He challenged Nigerian scientists to find solution to the dreaded Coronavirus currently threatening the world, and Lassa fever, a seasonal disease that usually breaks out in parts of Nigeria during the dry season and most infections usually result in death.
Mr Onu explained that the N36 million reward was to encourage Nigerian scientists to venture into finding lasting solutions to human challenges to prove to the world that Nigeria has the capacity to address human problems not only at local scale but at global level.
“I challenge all Nigerian scientists to go out and find cures for coronavirus and Lassa fever. Any scientist that is able to do this will be given N36m.”
“There is nothing that we want to do that we can’t do. Nigeria will be making contributions to the world.”
“We want our scientists to know that we place value on them. We want them to know that they are important. If you don’t do things like this, the scientists will think we don’t value them.
“Research takes a lot of time and energy, and we will be very happy to fulfil our pledge.
“This prize is open to the universities; it is also open to private laboratories and research institutes.”
Meanwhile, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that confirmed cases of coronavirus being transmitted by people who have never travelled to China could be the “tip of the iceberg”.
Ghebreyesus’s remarks come as members of a WHO-led “international expert mission” flew to China on Monday to help coordinate a response to the outbreak that has so far infected more than 40,000 people and killed 908 in the country.