Mathematics Study Group Can Solve Nigeria’s Problems –NMC Director
Nigeria, with a teeming population of more than 180 million and seemingly limitless human and natural resources, should be able to nestle in the fold of developed nations if the country can use Mathematics to solve its myriad of problems, the Director General of the National Mathematical Centre (NMC), Abuja, Professor Adewale Solarin, has advocated.
He made this remark at the opening ceremony of the Inaugural Nigerian Mathematics in Industry Study Group (NIGMISG) Workshop/Conference, holding at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, with the theme, ‘Fostering Collaborative Research between Academics and Industry Using Mathematics’.
Professor Solarin, who was the Keynote Speaker but represented by Professor F. Saporu, in his speech titled, ‘Mathematics in Industry in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects’, commended Covenant University for initiating the study group, which he said has the potential of transforming Nigeria into an industrialised nation.
The problem of Nigeria, he said, is suffering in the midst of plenty. “How can we mathematicians help? Mathematics is used in finding answers to questions and problems which arise in everyday life. The presence of industries is an index of a modern society. Consequently, choosing mathematics study group with industry as a model is very appropriate.”
Mathematics study groups with industry, he pointed out, provide a forum for industrial scientists to work alongside academic mathematicians on problems of direct industrial relevance. A study group, he enumerated, provides a forum for exploiting the expertise of leading applied mathematicians to find solutions to industrial problems; clarifying and clearly formulating a problem; bringing new perspectives and fresh ideas; brainstorming on mechanisms and methodologies; and finding state-of-the art solution procedures.
Professor Solarin said that the Mathematical Sciences Study Group with Industry, already put in place at the NMC in Abuja, and the NIGMISG which is a collaboration between Covenant University and the NMC, must address certain problems in order to thrive. Some of the problems, he mentioned, include gap between mathematicians and the industry; shortage of mathematicians in quality and quantity; and multinational companies whose research results are secretly developed and patented in their home country.
Mathematicians in other climes, he revealed, have been invited to solve different problems in the industry. “For instance, to use mathematics to study cell cycle regulation, tumor growth, and regeneration of the Epithelial after irradiation at M.D Anderson Cancer Centre; to develop software for engineering, medical and scientific applications at Elements research; and to provide statistical support for environmental restoration projects at a Department of Energy site in Oak Ridge, where wastes such as nuclear material are stored, for Lockheed Martin among others,” he explained.
One of the facilitators of the NIGMISG workshop and conference, Professor Aderemi Adewumi, from the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, who delivered a paper titled, ‘Mathematics in Industry Study Group: Prospects, Experience and Opportunties’, said “Mathematics has profound applications even in areas we hardly envisage”. These, he noted, include human relationships, habitat control, environmental issues, crime control, health and agriculture.
“Mathematics is the foundation stone upon which every major scientific and technological achievement of modern era has been built. It is alive and several developing countries spend huge money in mathematical research to solve problems,” Aderemi said, adding that, “the study group targets solving mathematical problems arising in daily living, community, business, industry and government.”
On the way forward for the study group, the professor of mathematics said it must think about human capacity development, collaborations with international institutions and funding assistance from agencies like the National Universities Commission, the NMC, institutions and industries.
Earlier, while declaring the event open, the Dean, College of Science and Technology, Professor Nicholas Omoregbe, who represented the Vice-Chancellor, expressed optimism that the workshop would stimulate greater awareness in the wider community of the power of mathematics in providing solutions to real world problems.
“Mathematics would become more and more relevant as we attempt to solve real world problems. This is quite in line with the philosophical platform upon which Covenant University has been built, and which is espoused in the following aphorisms. CU has a philosophy of a departure from form to skills, a departure from knowledge to empowerment, a departure from figures to future-building and a departure from mathematics to life-matics.
“It is our expectation that this conference would provide us an opportunity to learn new things, look at new ways of solving problems and to actually see how we can use mathematics to solve the legion of problems that is facing our society today, especially in the areas of medicine, in technology, businesses, finance and all the other areas that you can think of,” said Omoregbe.
The Head of the Department of Mathematics and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the NIGMISG workshop, Dr. Alfred Owoloko, in his remarks, said the plan of setting up mathematics in industry study group had been in the pipeline until recently when it was formalised.
“I got invitation to attend that of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa in 2016, and it was an eye-opener. Instead of talking, I decided to come back and see how Covenant University can become the first to do such a thing in Nigeria. Covenant University will be 14 in October; we are known to be first in so many things platforms. What we are witnessing today is that Covenant University has become the first university in Nigeria to organise mathematics in industry study group,” said Owoloko.
Aside Professor Adewumi, other facilitators at the occasion were Professor Neville Fowkes of the University of Western Australia, Australia; Professor Olabode Bamigbola of the University of Ilorin; Professor Thron Christopher of Texas A and M University, Central Texas, USA; and Dr. Fareo Gideon of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.
Also present at the event were lecturers in the Mathematics department and other participants. The workshop ends on Friday.