APPLICATION OF SCIENCE IN NATION-BUILDING: RELEVANCE, PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
(Winning speech at the annual Prof. C.A Obafemi intervarsity debate held at Obafemi Awolowo University on December 28, 2017)
Since the beginning of civilization, the application of science has been the foundation for designation of the appellation of progress in any nation and its contribution to nation-building so far has been without controversy an affirmation of its significance. We are here today because of Science, I stand to speak because of Science, you sit to listen because of science and in the end, to whatever height we want it to reach, our nation will be built up by nothing but Science.
Good afternoon judges, ladies and gentlemen. I am here today to speak on the relevance, problems and solutions of science as it applies to nation-building.
And to begin with, it is important that when we seek to speak of relevance, we look through the lenses of history for it is he who learns from history that tomorrow will not be a mystery. In essence, we cannot effectively justify the effectiveness of the relevance of the application of science in any nation by merely taking our standpoint from where we stand. We must take a few steps backwards and keep all other conditions constant, compare where we were to where we are and ask ourselves if science is indeed relevant in nation-building.
From the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 without which you and I would probably have died of minor infections to polio vaccine that has saved millions of lives of young innocent children to the discovery of electricity by Michael Faraday using the physics of electromagnetic induction to the discovery of the DNA in the 1950s and to the theory of relativity by Albert Einstein. Science is nothing less than relevant in nation-building.
Furthermore, the words science and technology are used so interchangeably today that it is difficult to understand the difference between the two. Science is the pursuit and the exploration of knowledge while technology is simply the application of knowledge gained from science. Thus science is the bedrock of any technological advancement. The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. Esteemed audience, no doubt our world is a better place today because of technological advancement. However, there can be no such advancement without scientific research. Hence while we appreciate the invention of a microphone, we must also understand that it is the application of the knowledge gained from the physics of sound waves that led to its invention. A nation cannot be built without technology; there is no technology without science. Hence, science is relevant in nation-building.
But, on the other side, it is almost impossible to speak of science and not take a moment to ponder on the problems as it borders on its application in nation-building. The garment of Science is not all white. If we have considered the relevance as it applies to nation-building, we should also consider its problems as it concerns tearing a nation apart. Japan will never forget the deadly effect of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima on August 6 and 9 respectively which as reported by the United States bombing strategic survey killed at least 129 000 people. 129000. This is more than quadruple of the population of the entire Obafemi Awolowo University students. Not just that our ozone layer is depleting daily, science is leading the pack of these depleters. Science does create problems.
However, while it is important we consider these problems, it would be unnecessary to linger too much on them for when our focus is too much on the problem, our eyes would be too blinded to see the solution. Interestingly, ladies and gentlemen, the solution to the problem of science is science itself. With the help of science, Japan is back on her feet again and with the help of agricultural science, efforts are being made to minimize greenhouse effects. Therefore, no need to stray back and forth, the solution to the problem of science itself.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, no matter how dirty a baby is, we do not throw the baby away with the bath water. In the same vein, no matter the seemingly undeniable problems the application of science has generated, it is also undeniable that its relevance far outweighs its problems. It is now left for us here today as scientists to decide that while we mould our nation with the bricks of science, we are also taking the necessary precautions.