COVID-19 and the e-learning our tertiary institutions need (1)


Ayobami Salami

Before COVID-19 spread its destructive tentacles to Nigeria, four major issues had dominated most discussions on our tertiary education. These were access, content, quality, and infrastructure. If we consider the controversy that often marks the relationship between the Nigerian government and workers’ unions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), it will be noted that the issue of manpower is also key. As crucial as they are, however, the thwacking of schools and the consequential unprecedented disruptions that the coronavirus pandemic has caused have made e-learning the most dominant theme of public discourse in recent times because of the urgent need to functionally keep learning going while students are locked up at home.

It is not that e-learning had altogether been new to us. We had often spoken about the need to incorporate it into the conventional system, while some institutions had been adopting it – though it remained a mere gimmick in some quarters. But now that the behemoth of the disease has suddenly and completely separated us from our campuses, classes and a long-term companion called black or whiteboards, and the smartboard in a few cases, the reality of the need to embrace real digitized learning has dawned on everyone.

What is making e-learning to gain worldwide recognition and acceptance includes the fact that there is a global increase in the number of applicants for higher education, which is as a result of global massification of higher education. E-learning thus becomes a means of extending the walls. Another reason is the need to make learning more acceptable to a wider population. The growing need for continued skills upgrading and re-skilling as well as the concept of andragogy, whereby learning becomes a life-long endeavour, concatenates into making e-learning more than a contemporary issue. With digital education, learning becomes flexible as it can happen anywhere, anytime anyhow.

Just imagine the hitherto unimaginable thing that COVID-19 is doing to hundreds of thousands of Nigerian undergraduates (the Nigerian University Commission said some 1.9 million students were studying in Nigerian universities as of 2017/2018), their parents, lecturers and other stakeholders. Without being on a semester break, with no strike going on, at least in private institutions, all the students remain falsely imprisoned at home, alongside their siblings in elementary and secondary schools. What other option can then be on the front burner, if not the one that can help to arrest time wastage and melt distances in the form of virtual education that e-learning is?

That is why it was reassuring when, in March this year, the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, held a virtual meeting with heads of tertiary institutions and discussed the imperative of deploying e-learning, as it is being done globally, to save time, arrest the boredom, confusion, fear and, indeed, the disruption that the pandemic unleashed on the system,. It was a remarkable and timely initiative on the part of the honourable minister and everyone saw the need for the development. The fact is that to start with the simple and natural course of aging, none of our students is growing younger, meaning that every second they spend idly at home counts. It should be borne in mind that there are several age-dependent adventures (e.g. employment, family life) that the students will need to undertake later in life. Unfortunately, while education and learning can be suspended, no one can suspend aging. What about lecturers too? Only a lazy brain will not be able to realize that the break is a huge minus for scholarship. Anyway, even if one does not consider any other factor, one must realize that there is retirement age and each day wasted at home is a minus for that too.

What about the academic calendars that now lie under the jackboot of coronavirus? Here is a country where the school calendar had already suffered disruptions in many places before, largely due to industrial actions. Or if organizers of a football league can cancel a season and await the next – as the Dutch and French leagues have now done due to the COVID-19 restrictions – how possible is it for a university or even government to declare a semester canceled? This is apart from the fact that in many other developed countries, e-learning has since been filling the gorge created by the strange disease. Why then should we deny our own students the consolation of e-learning? Will the world wait for our children? No!

Perhaps in the Federal Government’s understandable eagerness, it, days after the meeting, directed the institutions to commence implementing e-learning immediately! But that is the point where another fundamental question arises. Are we really prepared for e-learning in the real sense of it? Definitely not. And that is why we should quickly ponder why some stakeholders have not only criticized the approach but also why it is only too few institutions that have been able to start one way or the other. What are the obstacles? What processes should we urgently observe so that we can deploy e-learning in an effective and enduring way? There is the need for us to frankly answer these and other related questions.

Various state governments are also fast embracing the necessity for such technological diversification. From Oyo State to Lagos, Edo etc., initiatives are coming up to ensure that even if coronavirus has forced the suspension of the classroom activity, learning must not stop. For instance, the Oyo State Government recently constituted a sub-committee on its education emergency plan, to ensure seamless e-learning in its eight higher institutions, including the Ladoke Akintola University it co-owns with the Osun State Government and the newest, the First Technical University, Ibadan. While Edo has launched a package it calls EdoBest at Home E-learning (for basic schools), Lagos has approved e-portals for online education in its tertiary institutions, including the Lagos State University, Ojo. Good moves, but we must, at all levels and tiers, get the interventions right. What must be acknowledged are the significant and serious challenges that have to be overcome, relating to financial resources, intellectual capital, and sustainability as well as the standard cum quality of delivery.

Researchers have identified four critical variables in the successful integration of ICT into any educational system and these include hardware, software, curriculum, and teacher education. The needed hardware facilities include though not limited to learning studios and associated tools, hosting infrastructure, teleconferencing technology, a digital centre, course content conversion, and high-speed internet connectivity. To achieve our goal, certain steps must first be taken and the process involves our major phases.

First, there has to be proper conceptualization by which a clear contextual ideology and model is defined. This would involve the delineation of content and methods, including taking a critical look at the curriculum or syllabus itself, deciding whether or not the latter is to be pursued exactly the way it unfolds in the conventional class. This will help in unifying program goals even without hindering creatively enriching and localizing the curriculum on the part of each institution, faculty, department and lecturer.

The second stage is to establish a framework for e-learning. This will help with the delivery of the contents. As of now, some stakeholders believe that once you have a class on TV station, e-learning is done and dusted. Others are even banking on WhatsApp exchanges. Both media are truly digital but the kind of e-learning we are talking about, the one that is an alternative to, or a continuation – not just complementary or fill-gap – of classroom learning, has to be put in proper perspective or framework.

This takes us to the third key stage: mobilization. This is where we decide on and identify the hard and software needed for the project. As of now, most higher institutions in Nigeria are analogue-built. Indeed, they lack the main facilities needed to deliver the conventional system, not to talk of the modernist, digital wherewithal that e-learning demands. Consider the issue of the smartboard.

How many universities have and use this? Too few. This means a big minus as it narrows the choices towards laptop-oriented arrangements that will hardly give the tutor a suitable ambiance. Now, the operationalization stage. It is after we have satisfied the initial requirements that we can go into full e-learning in a functional way. For now, it is like wanting to start from the top if we just declare that e-learning has started. If anything, the various governments at all levels are just trying to keep the students at home busy. This is commendable, but what we need is far more than that. Our education system has to be restructured and reformed.

To be concluded tomorrow.

Professor Salami is the Vice-Chancellor, First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan

COVID-19 and the e-learning our tertiary institutions need (2)


Ayobami Salami

The hard and software needed must be put in place even if the government has to go for facilities such as loans to achieve such. Online education may take some resources now, but the beauty of it is that, in the long run, it will pay off.  It can even be cheaper than analogue learning. We never made the needed provision for e-learning to maximally gain from it; but now it is like we want to reap where we did not sow. For one, lecturers training for online teaching and testing as well as module development by instructional technologists are also paramount if we are to get it right.

In mapping out an effective delivery of online education, the Federal Ministry of Education may need to take a look at some of the steps taken by other countries in the South African region, Asia, Europe, and South or North America when COVID-19 forced all governments to close schools.  The Chinese example readily comes to mind. I must hasten to add that I am not unaware of the general sentiment about China with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic and the conspiracy theory. The idea here is, therefore, not by any stretch of the imagination, to project China especially at this time, or impose the Chinese concept on our system. Yet, there will surely be one or two fundamental things too, at least, to adapt from the country’s experience. To illustrate this, the story was told of a teacher who informed his students largely populated by teenagers that there is always something good about everyone and everything. A student then asked him what is good about the devil to which he responded: consistency.

China was as agitated as we are now when the virus first struck it and had to send its students home. Here is a country that, as of 2018, boasted 518, 800 schools at all levels, 16,728, 500 full-time teachers, and 276 million students. The figure is according to its education ministry. Realizing that there was a need for a well-defined and coordinated approach, it strengthened its National Public Service Platform for Educational Resources. We need a unit, if not an agency, in this realm.

Apart from providing appropriate learning resources during the emergency, the Chinese education ministry worked with enterprises to provide tools needed for effective e-learning. For instance, NetDragon, a top company in building internet communities, deployed its platform, One-Stop Online, to provide free live streaming of courses to over 10 million users. In addition, China enjoys the Alibaba-powered DingTalk, which, among others, provides free access to online conferencing for teachers, principals, and other managers. As documented in Handbook on Facilitating Flexible Learning During Educational Disruptions: The Chinese Experience in Maintaining Undisrupted Learning During COVID-19 Outbreak, the Chinese Ministry of Education worked with some 22 online platforms for all levels of schools. In Nigeria, the federal and state governments should appreciate the need for such strategic partnerships too towards making e-learning a robust reality in our clime.

Indeed, the Government should, as a matter of necessity and urgency, provide special funding and mobilize support from entrepreneurial and other institutions to provide tools and services that will power strategies for online education. For instance, smartboards should urgently be made available in our higher institutions. And since only very little or nothing can be achieved without an extensive and reliable telecom network, this is a time to encourage our providers to make special provisions for the e-learning experience. This is what the like of Alibaba did in China. Both the authorities and the schools need to guarantee the core elements that support undisrupted learning despite disrupted classes, borrowing one of the slogans that drove the Asian giant’s passion. These include reliable communication infrastructure, suitable digital learning resources, friendly learning tools, effective learning methods, instructional organizations, effective support services for students and teachers as well as close cooperation between government, enterprises, and schools. It is the availability of these that will give life to whatever strategies the universities and other higher institutions want to adopt.

It can be argued that this is an emergency time in which we don’t have to get everything right and available before we can jumpstart e-learning. Yes, a good argument. Even, China, as sophisticated as its technology is, suffered setbacks or contradictions in the past four months, with a New York Times report detailing how many of its rural areas and poor folks have been literally cut off from the reach of online education due to lack of access to the internet and other components of social communication – including phones (for students). So, this is not a time to insist everything must be Eldorado-ready before tertiary institutions can do the needful of online education. Yet, there are some basic provisions that must be made to achieve minimal results.

I believe one thing the government should do is to see the need to provide quality online education for our children locked down at home as an essential service now. As a result, it should guarantee the sector urgent special funding to provide essential hard and software, including internet wherewithal. If the government is soliciting funds to tackle coronavirus, it should consider the desired e-learning as part of the things it needs to urgently also invest in. As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong with consulting or cultivating those countries where online education has been inspiringly deployed.

Lecturers and school authorities have the duty to develop strategies they consider relevant for this trying season. Available resources and tools are key and may not be immediately within their control, yet it is a time to be proactive and think not just out of the box, but without the box. How simple and clearly structured are our methods for e-learning? Is there an economy of contents and time? Is there a well-designed and timely feedback system? Are assignments to be given weekly or how periodically? By the way, have the universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education ascertained the e-readiness of the tutors and organized for their training where necessary? What this means is that for us to deliver reliable online education, the government, enterprise, and higher institutions must be ready to play a role. Of course, parents too have a great role to play here. The reality is that e-learning imposes on them the added burden of having to provide beyond school fees. For students to enjoy virtual education, there has to be power, internet facility, and hardware such as laptops and good phones, with the parents, guardians, governments, and philanthropists having to be there for learners in making such available.

Generally speaking, this is the time for Nigeria to rethink and reconfigure its entire educational system. Beyond e-learning, we need an education system that develops the thinking capacity of students. We need the one that can make beneficiaries easily adapt to situations and anticipate eventualities. Disruptions will sometimes come, whether locally, nationally, or internationally. It could be a natural disaster or pandemic like the COVID-19, it can be political or economic. In Nigeria, the dominant educational system that feeds our children with usually monolithic theories are not helping matters and will not help us the day the unwanted guest comes.

Concluded

Professor Salami is the Vice-Chancellor, First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan.

Tech-U produces manual, digital ventilators


Researchers from the First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, have developed prototypes for manual and digital ventilators.

Though the university is shut like others due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a team of researchers led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola of the Department of Biomedical Engineering spent the last one month working on the devices.

Ajibola said the team members, Dr. Isaac Olaoye, Dr. Oladapo Fagbohun, Olumide Adebayo, Abdulwahab Balogun, Mr. Gafar Suleiman, Mr Samuel Olaleye, and two students, Gbolahan Fakayode, Quoyyum Oladokun hardly had a break during the period.

“Some members of the team who are fasting particularly have a story to tell as some people could not even go home for days,” he said.

The team developed the manual ventilator as an alternative for the digital considering the challenges of electricity supply in the country.

Last week, they presented prototypes of two ventilators to the university’s management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami.

Speaking at the unveiling of the prototypes, Salami challenged higher institutions in the country to rise to the cause of nation-building.

According to him, the resolution of critical problems, including the search for a solution to coronavirus pandemic, ought to bring out the best in them.

Also at the unveiling of the ventilators were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adesola Ajayi; the Registrar, Mrs. Olayinka Balogun and Bursar, Mr. Kehinde Olatokun.

Praising the team for the timely feat, Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.

He said: “Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its own people.

The best we can, therefore, do for ourselves as Nigerians are to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.

“Amid the current crisis, many people have been asking questions concerning what Nigerian universities have been doing to stop the disease.

Indeed, they are extending the question to other fundamental challenges that the country is facing, including those bordering on power generation and supply.

These are valid questions because tertiary institutions must be at the centre of national development for them to be able to worth their names.

Of course, there is a big hole in this regard in the Nigerian education industry and that is what Technical University is poised to fill.”

The Vice-Chancellor further said that the management would present the ventilators to the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who is also the Visitor of the university.

Explaining the function of the equipment, Ajibola, said a patient is placed on a ventilator to treat respiratory conditions such as apnea, hypoxia, trauma and other conditions as may impede the adequate supply of oxygen to the respiratory system of the body.

Speaking of how it works, he said: “This design employs humidifier, compressed air, oxygen inlet and electro-pneumatic valves for its operation.

The principle is based on the breathing rate per minute (bpm) of an adult by simultaneously controlling the operation of the valves with the ultimate goal of delivering clean air to the oxygen mask attached to the face of the patient. This design is fully automated.”

Concerning the mechanical, he said the bag valve mask popularly known as the Ambu-bag is used for emergency manual ventilation or resuscitation.

“The aim is to mimic the natural process of respiration. Its modus operandi is by exerting intermittent pressure on the bag at regular intervals in order to supply enough air to the patient through the oxygen mask while the bag valve mask recovers its form. It also has an accompanying hose for oxygen use.

“The ventilator applies positive pressure on the Ambu-bag at set interval synonymous to the regulated time to meet up with the respiratory rate of an adult of between 12 and 18 breaths per minute (bpm).

This system uses electro-pneumatic valves for control and a pneumatic cylinder for the actuation of the Ambu-bag. The system is set to run at an average of 15 breaths per minute,” he said.

Salami tasks varsities with development as Technical University produces digital, mechanical ventilators


The Vice-Chancellor of the First Technical University, Ibadan, Professor Ayobami Salami, has challenged higher institutions in the country to rise to the challenge of nation-building.

Salami said the resolution of critical problems, including the search for a solution to coronavirus pandemic, ought to bring out the best in them.

The VC made this known on Tuesday when the First Technical University showcased the two prototypes of ventilators it produced.

While one is digital, the other is mechanical, with Salami saying the consideration for situations where there might not be electricity made the production of the mechanical ventilator necessary.

Tech-U’s team of researchers, engineers, technologists, and students, led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, presented prototypes to the management on Tuesday.

Also at the unveiling of the ventilators were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adesola Ajayi; the Registrar, Mrs. Olayinka Balogun, and Bursar, Mr. Kehinde Olatokun.

Commending the team for the feat, which he described as timely, Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.

He said, “Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its own people. The best we can, therefore, do for ourselves as Nigerians are to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.

“Amid the current crisis, many people have been asking questions concerning what Nigerian universities have been doing to stop the disease. Indeed, they are extending the question to other fundamental challenges that the country is facing, including those bordering on power generation and supply. These are valid questions because tertiary institutions must be at the centre of national development for them to be able to worth their names. Of course, there is a big hole in this regard in the Nigerian education industry and that is what Technical University is poised to fill.”

The Vice-Chancellor further said that the management would present the ventilators to the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, who is also the Visitor of the university.

Explaining the making of the equipment, Ajibola, stressed that a ventilator or respirator is an appliance for artificial respiration.

According to him, a patient is placed on a ventilator to treat respiratory conditions such as apnea, hypoxia, trauma, and other such conditions as may impede the adequate supply of oxygen to the respiratory system of the body.

He said on the making of the ventilator, “This design employs humidifier, compressed air, oxygen inlet and electro-pneumatic valves for its operation. The principle is based on the breathing rate per minute (bpm) of an adult by simultaneously controlling the operation of the valves with the ultimate goal of delivering clean air to the oxygen mask attached to the face of the patient. This design is fully automated.”

Concerning the mechanical, he said the bag valve mask popularly known as the Ambu-bag is used for emergency manual ventilation or resuscitation.

“The aim is to mimic the natural process of respiration. Its modus operandi is by exerting intermittent pressure on the bag at regular intervals in order to supply enough air to the patient through the oxygen mask while the bag valve mask recovers its form. It also has an accompanying hose for oxygen use.

“The ventilator applies positive pressure on the Ambu-bag at set interval synonymous to the regulated time to meet up with the respiratory rate of an adult of between 12 and 18 breaths per minute (bpm). This system uses electro-pneumatic valves for control and a pneumatic cylinder for the actuation of the Ambu-bag. The system is set to run at an average of fifteen (15) breaths per minute,” he said.

Here is the full list of the team, with the last two being students of the university:

  1. Dr. Olawale Olaniyi Emmanuel Ajibola.
  2. Dr. Isaac Olatunde Olaoye.
  3. Dr. Oladapo Fisoye Fapohunda.
  4. Engr. Olumide Adebayo.
  5. Abdulwahab Balogun.
  6. Mr. Gafar Ajayi Suleiman.
  7. Mr. Samuel Bayo Olaleye.
  8. Gbolahan Faruq Fakayode.
  9. Quoyyum Mayowa Oladokun.

COVID-19: Tech-U Produces Digital, Mechanical Ventilators


While one is digital, the other is mechanical, with the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Professor Ayobami Salami, saying the consideration for situations where there might not be electricity made the production of the mechanical ventilator necessary.

Tech-U’s team of researchers, engineers, technologists, and students, led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, presented prototypes to the management on Tuesday.

Also at the unveiling of the ventilators were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adesola Ajayi; the Registrar, Mrs. Olayinka Balogun, and Bursar, Mr. Kehinde Olatokun.

Commending the team for the feat, which he described as timely, Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.

He said, “Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its own people. The best we can, therefore, do for ourselves as Nigerians are to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.

“Amid the current crisis, many people have been asking questions concerning what Nigerian universities have been doing to stop the disease. Indeed, they are extending the question to other fundamental challenges that the country is facing, including those bordering on power generation and supply. These are valid questions because tertiary institutions must be at the center of national development for them to be able to worth their names. Of course, there is a big hole in this regard in the Nigerian education industry and that is what Technical University is poised to fill.”

The Vice-Chancellor further said that the management would present the ventilators to the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, who is also the Visitor of the university.

Explaining the making of the equipment, Ajibola, stressed that a ventilator or respirator is an appliance for artificial respiration.

According to him, a patient is placed on a ventilator to treat respiratory conditions such as apnea, hypoxia, trauma, and other such conditions as may impede the adequate supply of oxygen to the respiratory system of the body.

He said on the digitally-controlled ventilator, “This design employs humidifier, compressed air, oxygen inlet and electro-pneumatic valves for its operation. The principle is based on the breathing rate per minute (bpm) of an adult by simultaneously controlling the operation of the valves with the ultimate goal of delivering clean air to the oxygen mask attached to the face of the patient. This design is fully automated.”

Concerning the mechanical, he said the bag valve mask popularly known as the Ambu-bag is used for emergency manual ventilation or resuscitation.

“The aim is to mimic the natural process of respiration. Its modus operandi is by exerting intermittent pressure on the bag at regular intervals in order to supply enough air to the patient through the oxygen mask while the bag valve mask recovers its form. It also has an accompanying hose for oxygen use. The ventilator applies positive pressure on the Ambu-bag at set interval synonymous to the regulated time to meet up with the respiratory rate of an adult of between 12 and 18 breaths per minute (bpm). This system uses electro-pneumatic valves for control and a pneumatic cylinder for the actuation of the Ambu-bag. The system is set to run at an average of fifteen (15) breaths per minute,” he said.

Tech-U varsity produces digital, mechanical ventilators


The First Technical University, Ibadan, Oyo State has produced two prototypes of ventilators.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ayobami Salami, in a statement on Wednesday said one of the ventilators was digital, while the other was mechanical. He added that the production of the mechanical ventilator was necessary for consideration of situations where there was no electricity.

He said the university’s team of researchers, engineers, and technologists, led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering presented prototypes to the management on Tuesday.

Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.

“Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its people. The best we can, therefore, do for ourselves as Nigerians are to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.”

Technical University Produces Digital, Mechanical Ventilators


The First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, Oyo State, has produced two prototypes of ventilators – one digital, the other mechanical.

Vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor Ayobami Salami, said the consideration for situations where there might not be electricity made the production of the mechanical ventilator necessary.

Tech-U’s team of researchers, engineers, and technologists, led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, presented the prototypes to the management on Tuesday. Also at the unveiling of the ventilators were the deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Adesola Ajayi; the registrar, Mrs. Olayinka Balogun, and bursar, Mr. Kehinde Olatokun.

Commending the team for the feat, which he described as timely, Professor Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.

He said, “Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its own people.

“The best we can do for ourselves as Nigerians, therefore, is to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.

“Amid the current crisis, many people have been asking questions concerning what Nigerian universities have been doing to stop the disease. Indeed, they are extending the question to other fundamental challenges that the country is facing, including those bordering on power generation and supply.

“These are valid questions because tertiary institutions must be at the center of national development for them to be able to earn their names. Of course, there is a big hole in this regard in the Nigerian education industry and that is what Technical University is poised to fill.”

The vice-chancellor further said that the management would present the ventilators to the Governor Seyi Makinde, who is also the visitor of the university.

While commenting on the equipment, the team leader, Dr. Ajibola, said the digitally-controlled ventilator “employs humidifier, compressed air, oxygen inlet and electro-pneumatic valves for its operation,” adding  “This design is fully automated.”

Concerning the mechanical, he said the bag valve mask popularly known as the Ambu-bag is used for emergency manual ventilation or resuscitation.

COVID-19: Tech-U To Introduce 2 Types Of Ventilators – VC, Prof Ayo Salami


The Vice-Chancellor of the First Technical University, Ibadan, Professor Ayobami Salami has announced that his institution is about to introduce two types of ventilators to help reduce death rate as the novel coronavirus ravages Nigeria.

The university don explained that his research team at Tech-U is almost ready to formally present the ventilators – digital and mechanical.

The university don gave these submissions while featuring on Tuesday’s edition of the weekly radio magazine show, Parrot Xtra Hour aired on Space 90.1FM, Ibadan anchored by Olayinka Agboola.

He also disclosed that Tech U is giving everything at its disposal to support the state government in curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 in Oyo State.

According to Prof. Salami, “one of the major functions of the university is to be able to innovatively and proactively respond to solving the challenges of the larger society.

“When the coronavirus became a pandemic, we sat down with management and we told ourselves even though, we are very young, very new, we must not fold our hands, this is time to actually look inwards and see in what ways, areas we can support the state government and by inference the entire Nigerian society.

“We decided to support the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of the state government in respect of the designing and reproduction of sensitization materials, so, we put our ICT infrastructure at the disposal of the Centre for contact tracing, data management, and data-based development. We have also come up with face masks, which have been presented to the state government.”

Speaking about how the institution has been sourcing for funds to run its programmes and the level of infrastructure that have been put in place, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor, explained that Tech U is being run by the public, private and the parents (PPP).

His words, “when I was appointed as Vice-Chancellor, we only had two buildings donated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the state government and these were the infrastructure handed over to us.

“But through the internally generated revenue and from those who have been supporting us, we have been able to move higher. As I am talking to you, we have Central workshop and laboratory that is almost completed and is being built from our own internally generated revenue, we have students’ accommodation built by the private sector and we also have another set of hostel accommodation going on concurrently in the university. We have brought in a lot of infrastructure into the place.

“Thanks to the Oyo State government, you can see that Engineer Seyi Makinde’s administration has almost completed our gatehouse and the new access road to the university. It is a part of the support or facilitation that the state government is giving to us,” Prof. Salami stated.

In his submission on the employability status of Tech-U students and how they are keying into the mission of the institution, the VC noted that the institution has made it a matter of compulsion for all students to learn at least one vocation, which they can live on apart from certificate before they leave the university.

Salami revealed that the university has made it a norm and following its slogan ‘developing brains, training hands’ by involving students in any research work by the research team of Tech-U to enable them to earn some income even while on campus.

Salami, while speaking on how he managed to settle the ownership speculation and his survival during the change of government in Oyo State, he commended the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who he described as a leader who believes in the politics of development. “There is a difference between rumor and fact, so many things were going on during the electioneering campaign but as I said, I only restricted myself to my job, my work. Let me say that I must give credit to the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde because some people believe in politics of accusation, some others believe in politics of development, so, I believe that our governor believes in politics of development and he was able to see that Technical University is part of the sectors that can contribute meaningfully to the development of the state.

“Therefore, he has been able to show that he is a man that is objective and goes for what is right and he strives to do what is the best. So, my being here, number one, I will attribute to God and attribute it to the objectivity of the leadership of the state. Like I told you, I am a technocrat and not a politician,” Prof. Salami submitted

The debonair scholar also made shocking revelations as to how he was denied the opportunity of becoming V.C of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, before his present appointment.

He submitted that though he had ran the race and won and was appointed but denied the chance of becoming the V.C in O.A.U due to some underground politics.

“I have made my mark in Ife and anybody hearing me or reading the transcript of this interview can cross-check. I have already had my mark in that great university, which has been my platform since I entered as an undergraduate student and I want to say, to the glory of God, in Ife today, I mean in Obafemi Awolowo University, I have a memorial.

“But where I am going to have my legacy is the First Technical University, Ibadan. So Ife is a place for me to have a memorial, Ibadan First Technical University is the place for me to have my legacy. I ran the race and won. I got appointed and due to some politics and shenanigans, I was denied the chance of becoming the V.C,” Salami said.

On what really happened as it was rumored that he was being denied the opportunity because of the fact that he was not from Osun State or an Ife indigene. Professor Ayobami Salami has this to say.

“There were so many factors. Where I came from was part of it. There were some people who were also interested in some things, which made them go against the normal procedure and normal process. But for me, I am a person who believes in the counsel and the plan of God to channel and direct my paths.

Because, with the knowledge of hindsight, I am far, far better off where I am. I have cause to give glory to God and be grateful to those who participated in the process that denied me the opportunity of resuming as Vice-Chancellor there.”

For those who blocked him from becoming the V.C, according to Salami, though they have blocked his progress but unknown to them, they were being used by God.

“The place of declaration for me is Ife but the place of actualisation is the First Technical University.

“I am very grateful to God and I am grateful to all of them and many of them are now my friends interestingly. When I go to Ife now, they are my friends. Because most of them realised they made a big mistake but I believe they were used by God.”

Ayobami Salami is an Ibadan-born Professor of Space Applications and Environmental Studies.

According to Wikipedia, Professor Ayobami Salami, born 56 years ago, hails from Ibadan, specifically from Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo Central Senatorial District, Oyo State, Nigeria.

He attended Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan for his secondary school education. Then proceeded to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife between 1982–1986, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife 1987–1989, African Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys between 1989–1990, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife between 1992–1996.

He has B.Sc (Geography) 1986; M.Sc (Land Use and Natural Resources Management) 1989; PGD (Remote Sensing Applications/GIS) 1990; Ph.D (Space Applications and Land Use/Natural Resources Management) 1996.

Salami joined the services of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife as a Research Fellow II in the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies on 1st February 1991. He rose through the ranks to the grade of Professor on 1st October, 2003.

He had served as the Director, Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies of the University (2006–2010) and Head, Space Applications and Environmental Science Laboratory (2005 till date). He was formerly the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

Salami also served as a Member of the Senate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, after having served as an Elected Member from 1996–2000. In addition, he had served as a Member of the University Governing Council from 2003–2007 and had at various times, served on several committees in the University either as Member or Chairman.

Salami has to his credit, several universities, national and international fellowships, honours, awards, and consultancies. He had also served as a Member of the Accreditation Panel of the National Universities Commission to various universities in Nigeria at different times.

Professor Salami has obtained numerous grants from several organizations such as National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Abuja; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Ecological Fund Office, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, The Presidency, Abuja; National Centre for Remote Sensing, Jos; International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), The Netherlands; International Secretariat of System Analysis for Research and Training- International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), Washington D.C.; UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission; United Nations Development Program (UNDP); United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy; Ramboll Natura AB, Sweden; European Union (EU); International Development Research Centre (IDRC); and International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM), Japan among others.

An Eisenhower Fellow (USA) since 2009, Professor Salami has supervised the thesis of 7 Ph.D. and 31 M.Sc. degree students in the University and is currently supervising 3 Ph.D. students. He has served as an External Examiner to several foreign and Nigerian Universities.

He delivered the 220th Inaugural Lecture of the University titled “Space Applications and Ecological Haemorrhage: The Nigerian Experience” in 2009. Professor Ayobami Salami has 75 publications to his credit in Books, Journals, Conference Proceedings and Technical Papers.

Ayobami T. Salami is the pioneer Vice-Chancellor, The First Technical University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. The University under his administration has recorded many feats since its establishment by the immediate past administration in the state.

COVID-19 innovations by tertiary institutions


The COVID-19 pandemic has put tertiary institutions on their toes to come up with solutions to check the spread of the virus in Nigeria. KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE reports on these efforts and the need for funding to make them a reality.

As the world grapples with the debilitating health effects of the COVID-19, the race to stop the pandemic in its track is on. However, the great global need for medical supplies leading to severe shortages has forced countries to look inwards to solve their problems.

Tertiary institutions and research institutes are some of the organizations being looked up to find solutions to the problems of lack of face masks, personal protective equipment for health workers and ventilators, among others. The need to stop the spread of the highly-contagious virus is highlighting the importance of the town-gown relationship between tertiary institutions and the societies they serve. Everywhere, tertiary institutions are being looked upon to step up their research and community development roles.

Institutions have been reporting various initiatives – from the production of hand sanitizers, ventilators, and face masks to sensitization about COVID-19 and distribution of information and education materials.

Innovation from Nigeria

Sequencing of the first genome of SARS-CoV-2 in Africa

Nigeria scored a highpoint by being the first country in Africa to produce the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2. The feat was achieved less than one week after the country recorded its index COVID-19 case on February 27.

The work was a collaboration among four institutions – the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Nigeria (RUN), which hosts World Bank-sponsored Africa Centre of Excellence for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and the College of Medicine, University of Lagos/ Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

The sequencing, which studies the DNA of the virus, helps contribute to the world’s understanding of the virus and is important for vaccine development.

NCDC Communication Officer, Chukwuemeka Oguanuo, said genomic sequencing was one of the first steps needed to understand the virus.

“When you sequence a gene, it means you want to understand the activities of the DNA of a virus,” he said when the feat was achieved.

The feat won Nigeria praise from the World Health Organisation and the scientific community worldwide.

WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreyesusu said of the feat: “Thank you @mcdcgOV and the Government of Nigeria for the swift and transparent way you have shared the COVID-19 sequence from the country’s first case. This is a true act of solidarity and an important step in stopping the coronavirus from spreading further.”

Ventilators

The ventilator is the most coveted piece of equipment in fighting the coronavirus. It is needed when the conditions of infected persons deteriorate to the point that they need assistance breathing because their lungs have collapsed.

Several institutions have come up with ventilators. While the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, Olusegun Aluko, said the institution had invented one using locally-sourced materials that cost less than N1 million; a 200-Level Mechanical Engineering student of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Usman Dalhatu, has also produced a manual ventilator. Both the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro and Dalhatu are seeking funding support to mass-produce.

Other institutions like the First Technical University (TECH-U), Ibadan, and Bayero University, Kano have also rolled out plans to produce ventilators.

TECH-U Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ayobami Salami said work was in progress towards producing ventilators.

“Right now, First Technical University research team is also working towards the production of ventilators. The reason is that we believe that more than ever before, universities and other higher institutions in Nigeria must be practically and innovatively relevant to the advancement of society,” he said.

At BUK, the Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Salisu Dan’Azumi, said the institution was working on a ventilator that it hopes to produce for use by isolation centers in Kano.

To this end, it has set up a committee chaired by Prof. Abdussamad U. Jibia of the Mechatronics Engineering Department to present a design and construction of a prototype ventilator.

Sanitizers/ face masks/others

Many institutions, including the University of Benin, Iree Polytechnic, and the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) among others have begun producing sanitizers.

COVID-19 innovations

The TECH-U, in addition to its ventilator project, has also produced washable face masks and is working with the Oyo State Government on data management and contact tracing.

Speaking on the initiatives, Ayobami, said: “Yes, we are involved in research towards finding a solution to the pandemic. First, the university is working with the Oyo State Government through the State Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) on contact tracing, data analysis, and data management on suspected cases.

“The First Technical University has produced washable face masks that it has donated to the Oyo State Government, through the Ministry of Health, for distribution as deemed fit. We decided to produce washable masks so that they can be reused and save cost on the part of the populace because the masks are also available for sale at a reduced rate.”

At FUTO, Head of the Chemistry Department, Prof. Cynthia E. Ogukwe said the sanitizer produced by her department contains 75% alcohol – which is more than the 60 percent recommended by the WHO.

Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Francis Eze said the sanitize would be donated to the Imo State government to check the pandemic. He added that the department would be supported to scale up production.

Research that may not make it due to funding

Many more innovations are in the pipeline but may not see the light of day without funding.

At the Federal University Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), the Dean of Science, Prof. Laide Lawal said the university needed the grant to work on enhancing Nigeria’s testing capability.

“We are working actively on this. We submitted a proposal for a fast grant on clinical characteristics, viral genome characterization, codon usage, and drug development for SARS-CoV-2 cases in Southwestern Nigeria. We are still looking for other opportunities for funding. The main constraint here is that we do not have a functioning PCR machine and also we need to have a 24-hour power supply. We also need COVID-19 extraction and detection kits, protective clothing (wears, gloves, marks). If we can get these, then we are capable of being a viable center for the detection of the Virus.”

A Professor of Medical Virology at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Olatunji Kolawole, said his research team had three viable proposals ready for research on various aspects of COVID-19 but needed to be funding.

He told The Nation that his team of researchers had prepared proposals for the development of vaccines, molecular epidemiology surveillance for COVID-19 as well as a prototype for detection of COVID-19 and seeks funding to support the research.

“Proposals have been written by me and some of my research team. One is on the development of a vaccine; another has to do with molecular epidemiology surveillance for COVID-19 and the third has to do with developing a prototype for case detection. The prototype will hopefully be ready by next week for a pre-test. Once it is ready and fine, we will be seeking for funds,” he said.

To develop the prototype for case detection, Kolawole who is the Director, Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology at the university, said his team had to use personal funds.

“I have used my personal funds, and members of my team have also contributed personal funds to develop the prototype. This is the bane of research in Nigeria. Ideas are there but when you don’t have funds you can do nothing.

“I want to use this channel to appeal to the government to give us money. There is capacity to do more if research is funded. ASUU is on strike and we have not received a salary for February or March but I have been working and spending my money on research. If I can do this it shows the passion and level of commitment I have for research,” he said.

Kolawole said he was the first to report the coronavirus in Nigeria in 2017. He added that if his work had been taken seriously, Nigeria would have been better prepared to combat COVID-19.

“I was the first to report Coronavius – OC229E/NL63 in Nigeria in 2017. It is a train of the coronavirus family – not COVID-19. If the Nigerian government had taken leaf at that time they would have put much in place before COVID-19 came. The research was funded with international partners in the U.S. with a grant from the National Science Foundation, but I was the one that did the local research,” he said.

COVID-19: Makinde’s Government Gets Face Masks From First Technical University


Washable face masks have been donated to the Oyo State Government by the First Technical University, Ibadan, to support the administration in its fight against coronavirus.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami, on Thursday, led principal officers of the institution to the Ministry of Health, Secretariat, Ibadan, where the donation was made.

Salami said Tech-U’s Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Centre decided to produce and donate the washable masks as its own contribution to the efforts to curtail the pandemic.

“Immediately the coronavirus became a pandemic, we decided to support the state’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) with the design and production of information and awareness materials, as well as ICT support for the emergency operations including surveillance, contact tracing, data analysis, and database management.

“Right now, the First Technical University research team is also working towards the production of ventilators. Our belief is that, more than ever before, universities and other higher institutions in Nigeria must be practically and inventively relevant to the advancement of society,” Salami said.

The Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello, said the masks would prove useful especially with the re-usability factor.

He, therefore, solicited the university’s continuous search for interventions that were evidence-based.