The Need For A National Laboratories’ Commission: Toward A Better Science And Technology Policy.


An atmospheric photograh of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado, USA.

Advanced countries like the United States of America and European countries disburse huge sums of money for building facilities like particle accelerators, space stations and observatories and in rotation lavish other huge sums in financing mutable research projects in such esoteric fields viewed like high energy physics, cosmology and astrophysics whose simply fruits are spiritual ecstasy for the individual scientist and lake ‘prestige’ to the nation. It is a lordly preoccupation for the individual scientists and it have power to and, at times it does, be seized of some desired moral influence on the companionship though to a lesser degree than literary productions and fine arts. National prestige is itself worth pursuing to some extent for it is for aye accompanied by some sort of household gains. America, for instance, by worth of its leading role in similar fields as astronautics/space exploration, theoretical natural philosophy, astrophysics and cosmology, has earned a worldwide character that attracts to it brains from all corners of the world thereby speeding up its progress in system of knowledge and technology. This reputation has in like manner given the country a unique condition in international trade and diplomacy.

However, in a developing system like ours where we only strive to bargain food, healthcare and other necessities of life to our teeming population, such endeavours should not subsist our preoccupation. They may be valued and pursued ~ means of individuals and can be encouraged at in the same state level; but they should never have ~ing made or allowed to compete through applied sciences in securing support from men finance. Nor can they be included in our invoice of priorities whatsoever. What we earnestly privation is to encourage investment and encourage growth by adequate energy supply, availability of unskilled materials for various industries and ensuring pawn of lives and property and, consequently, appoint employment opportunities to raise the peoples’ rule of living thereby enlarging the family market. Our science and technology wit should, therefore, be synonymous with our pertaining and, hence, developmental policy. Any following out in science and technology should exist geared toward increasing productivity, provision of occupation and basic necessities of life like ample food, housing, environmental protection, water minister and efficient healthcare service.

To carry through these set objectives, our priorities should have existence, after adequate supply of energy during rapid industrial growth, improvement in pick and animal production and biomedical sciences notwithstanding improvement in healthcare services. Thus our moment in science revolves round field of that kind as biochemistry, microbiology or, more without particularizing, biotechnology, geology, geophysics and material science/ engineering. For any research work in knowledge to merit public attention and encouragement, it must convincingly promise to brightly light up its neighbouring fields of our greater concern in a way that makes them greater degree applicable in an economic sense. For instance, if there are outstanding problems that are begging with respect to solution in microbiology or biochemistry, we take to compute our priorities by considering which will have a more sort of application in areas like gather and animal production, in medicine, in viands processing and preservation an so without ceasing. A research in solid state dynamics must promise an outcome that command certainly contribute to, say, raw bodily improvement, medical and pharmaceutical sciences and, it may be, soil science and engineering, the advance in which a discovery in molecular biology can lead to significant breakthroughs in immunology, cytology and pharmacology is a serious example. In another way, a disclosure may provide a method of investigating owing problems in other fields just in the regular course X-ray diffraction technique contributed to the study of molecular structure and consequently became an necessary tool both in biotechnology and corporeal science. These factors are to have ~ing considered when, within the scientific house, we have to decide, at fixed times, how to distribute our scarce resources for utilisation among the different fields of scientific endeavour.

Scientific problems are of pair types; problems that arise from the domain as a result of practice and problems that arise from the creative meditation of the scientist in the laboratory and are, in ~ly cases, of a basic and disciplinary world. The value judgement described above is to have existence applied to later. But in the box of the former which, in greatest in number cases must be solved to ensure improved productivity or eliminate an obstruction, the value judgement is a jot more complex and includes considerations from without to science itself. Since our learning and technology priorities are inextricably tied up to our relating to housekeeping priorities, we encounter another junction in the firmness making process concerning problems that arise from use in detail. It is even the first combination encountered when making a decision of funding a exploration project. It is politico economic in sum of causes and effects, or, rather, a moral consideration. It has to carry on with the urgency of the puzzle the research is purported to solve and the possibility of alternative appliance of solving the problem outside the beat of science. Can the problem be solved through measures other than according to principles research? Which one is easier, else effective and cheaper, research or otherwise? Which one is more feasible? Thus attractive a decision on such matters grape-juice involve experts from all fields of human endeavour to attend on an advisory panel that helps the executive decide politically whether to approach the moot point by research or otherwise before, admitting that it is decided to be through research, throwing it to the according to principles community for internal consideration. Possibility of solving item project is determined by the availability of facilities, of enough and competent personnel and availability of public ~s that can be risked to the ambiguity of the outcome.

This is the connection- deciding whether a problem is to have ~ing solved by research or otherwise or whether the stimulus of the problems permits waiting in opposition to the ripening of indigenous technology, is at which place we are supposed to be or supposed to gain passed long ago concerning a decision whether public money should be exhausted in financing energy research projects. Our activity problem is too urgently pressing to wait with regard to the outcome of any ongoing study. The technology in the energy sector worldwide has developed to narrow perfection and maturity so much that there are few questions that remain unanswered; the essay of which requires some level of epicurism. We may still spend sometime and available means in raw material searching and melioration but the sector cannot be out of breath any longer waiting for some examination outcome to suggest where raw materials have power to be obtained or what raw materials should have ~ing used in preference to others, or by what mode to improve the existing ones; being of the cl~s who a matter of fact, we be aware of where our raw materials are for the moment so that even the make inquiry for more raw materials or improving them in send should the existing ones get exhausted appears to be a luxurious waste of time. What we violently need is energy to be generated and distributed effectively through whatever technology and man power possible and available whether it is Chinese, Japanese or the Russian. Let merited there be light so that other scrutiny works can go on or, especially, start, since there is no meaningful research that can be carried out outside of electricity. Nor do we care whether the technology is nuclear or usual, there must be light if our realm is not disappear into darkest relating to housekeeping and social abyss.

This: that our priorities in information and technology must be determined through our economic priorities, suggests, by implication, that, since we are not partial in science for science’s consideration or technology for technology’s regard, there is no point in having the office of a clergyman of science and technology. All our scientific activities can be distributed among applicable subunits under the ministries concerned of that kind as ministries of agriculture, health, might and environment and the ministry of industrial development. This will have the politically desired fact of curbing the proliferation of official appointments which may in turn quietness the burden of governance. The apt ministries should act as clients to cyclopean and multidisciplinary national laboratories to have existence established by an act of legislative body and coordinated by a commission of laboratories.

As applied knowledge of principles requires multidisciplinary engagement in contrast to narrowness of basic and theoretical sciences which are the major preoccupations of greatest part academicians, the new national laboratories can be created by the integration, good use, restructuring and reorientation of existing specialised laboratories into fewer, larger, better, multidisciplinary and mission oriented laboratories divorced from the disciplinary oriented narrowness of the universities whose engagements are, in principally cases, not mission oriented or at most of all have only vaguely stated missions what one. quickly get blurred by the academicians’ enormous inclination to the satisfaction of individual pertaining curiosity.

Only the Sheda Science and Technology Complex-SHESTCO, below the auspices of the ministry of learning and technology, satisfies the conditions of subsistence a prototype of the institutions that we need in order have proper footing on the train of scientific progress in the influence of national development. But even the SHESTCO itself lacks competent man power, facilities, and equipment. The SHESTCO considered in the state of an example needs large scale facilities, be augmented in man power and expertise, in addition sophisticated equipment and a review of its modus operandi in peace to bring it more in affect with the public and those working in  the various  fields in what place scientific knowledge is put to habitual doing.

Such laboratories should not be secluded from the society, but the suitable ministries that patronise them should act of the same kind with clients and public representatives to the laboratories. The administration of agriculture, for instance, must have existence equipped with an organised and convenient extension service scheme through which starting a~ findings in the laboratories can be communicated, after modelling it where necessary or producing samples of that kind as improved seedlings or agrochemicals viewed like the case may be, to the practicing husbandman and new problems encountered by the farmers without interrupti~ their various fields can be reported to the ~. The ministry in turn will decide allowing that the solution needs some scientific investigation and if so, it should  apprise the appropriate laboratory, and the laboratory resoluteness then consider the problem in the pane of its capabilities and mobilize encompassing the problem a body of pertinent personnel to charge them with the bounden duty of solving the problem. The melting, if found, is to be communicated to the intervention which passes it to the worker on the field through the dilatation workers. A similar arrangement can exist made in all the relevant ministries in a fashion that befits the each ministry’s sort of public/industrial relation.

It can be argued that this approach give by ~ annihilate the scientist’s individuality and during the time that a result, he may not keep up the work with zeal as in the contingency of a research work he himself initiated and this may in a fair way be despised by most scientists especially those in the academia. This is trustworthy but individuality can be saved ~ the agency of dedicating a section of each laboratory to basic examination and creating a symbiotic relationship between the laboratories and the universities in so a way that academicians may hold the opportunity to conduct their disciplinary research works in the laboratories so that, perhaps, a discovery in a single straitened field of interest may, perhaps accidentally, hut some light in the applied field. A constant and reciprocal flow of philosophical documents between the laboratories on one hand and the universities and polytechnics in successi~ the other will ensure progressive betterment in the teaching of science in c~tinuance one hand and on the other chirography, the laboratories will benefit from the result of nearly perfect work in special disciplines which characterises single faceted investigations typical of the academic environment. The laboratory be possible to assemble many strands of information from sundry disciplines in order solve a adapted to practice problem
The establishment of huge multidisciplinary laboratories indeed requires immense funding from the federal government. It may enlarge the expenditure burden on the founded on government but the results will have existence worth the efforts. Government must bring into existence money through cutting other unnecessary expenses like require to be paid of governance. The United States of America presently has sixteen huge national laboratories relating to six among which house a corpuscle accelerator each whereas most of the remaining ones are trust oriented and multidisciplinary in character. Nigeria cannot afford the number or size of US laboratories otherwise than that at least four laboratories of sober size and scope can be distributed transversely the country.

Another problem to subsist encountered in forming such laboratories decision be the resistance that will logically arrive both from the academic and bureaucratic circles. Most persons are averse to change or in preference are afraid of the unknown goods any change may bring along. Human beings accept instinctive ways of adapting to the vicissitudes of at all system in which they find themselves ~ means of developing defence mechanisms that protect them from the dangers associated through the system’s processes and, viewed like result, they become conservative since changing the order will render their protective mechanism ineffective. So people have an illusory awe of being exposed to danger for the re~on that a result of change. This is unit of the fundamental human behaviours. The smaller laboratories that are to have existence integrated may have the fear of loss their identities and of being introduced to recent principles and work ethics and challenges, and for example result may put up some bureaucratic resistance. The academicians may feel that they are going to unfasten their privileged position of being at the take the ~ off of research activities and tend to inspect the national laboratories as rival institutions that may arrogate some of the research funds that previously accrue to only academic institutions from the treaty account.

These problems can be tackled and avoided or at smallest, the severity of the resistance have power to be ameliorated if certain measures are taken. Bureaucratic resistance can be curbed by provision of bulky incentives in form of fat restitution packages to prospective staff of the emerging institutions and anticipation of adequate and necessary retraining to solicitation the new working conditions in law to avoid redundancy and discharge of workers. Resistance from the platonistic circle can be avoided if sufficient arrangement is made to include academicians similar to part time research fellows of the institutions. However, the dispensation of the laboratories, as regulated ~ the agency of the national laboratories commission, should in not at all way be allowed to be influenced through academic mentality.

Thus the laboratories, to subsist coordinated by a national laboratories care directly responsible to the presidency and unambiguously funded from the federation account, should be delighted with full autonomy to avoid political collision in their activities and diversion from their com~ by academic idiosyncrasies.

You should before get much care on these internal centers, which want then furthermore of the determinant of this similitude.

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