2 works win NLNG’s $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Science

Barth Nnaji

Two scientific works have been selected as winners of the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Science 2022 organised by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd (NLNG).

Chairperson of the advisory board for the prize Prof. Barth Nnaji announced this at a news conference in Lagos on Wednesday.

The theme of the prize for the 2022 edition is: “Innovations in Sustainable Food Security”.

The panel of judges for the Nigeria Prize for Science received 107 entries from scientists worldwide for the 2022 edition.

A panel of judges led by Prof. Christian Agbo of the Department of Agriculture, University of Nigeria Nsukka reached the decision on the winning entries.

Other members on the panel were Funke Opeke, the chief executive officer of MainOne and Prof. Mohammed Magaji of the Department of Agronomy, Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

Nnaji said that one of the outstanding works was ”Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivars under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions” by Muhydideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado.

He said that the second one was “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” by Sesan Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatomilola.

According to him, the two groups will split the $100,000 grand prize.

On the judges’ report, the chairman said that the works addressed food security which was a key component of the national agenda.

He said that the works were in line with goal two of the sustainable development goals which sought sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security.

Nnaji further said that the choice of the judges reflected a multi-disciplinary approach relevant to the theme in focus.

He said the advisory board was particularly pleased that in evaluating the entries, the judges upheld the objectives of the prize which sought to identify and promote excellence in utilising scientific knowledge.

“Muhyideen Oyekunle, a Maize Breeder and Prof. Shehu Ado, an Agricultural Expert’s work on: ‘Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivars under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions’ provides us with a unique opportunity.

“The maize seeds they selected courtesy of a breeding programme has been tested to be high yielding and water stress tolerant.

“Prof. Sesan Ayodeji, from Federal University of Technology, Akure and his colleague, Mr Emmanuel Olatomilola’s work on ‘Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour’ is important for reducing spoilage of farm products and package for distribution as well as value addition for farm products,” Nnaji said.

The advisory chairman commended the NLNG board and management for instituting, sponsoring and sustaining what is arguably the biggest science prize in Africa.

In his remarks, NLNG’s general manager, external relations and sustainable development Andy Odeh said that the science prize was growing in strength as the 2022 verdict depicted.

Odeh noted that the advisory board and NLNG were working behind the scenes to review the prize for bigger impact and inclusiveness for the good of society.

He added that the winning works had the potential to significantly impact the country’s food security positively through stable, efficient and sufficient system of food production.