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Nigerian inventor of anti-cancer drug laments poor research funding

A Professor of Pharmacognosy at Obafemi Awolowo University, Joseph Aladesanmi, who invented a new anti-cancer drug, has lamented the poor funding of research as well as the attention given to education in Nigeria.

CAMPUS REPORTER gathered that about 5 months ago, Mr Aladesanmi received the patent for ‘acuminatoside’, a new drug against prostate, breast, cervical, and pancreatic cancers.

In an exclusive interview with CAMPUS REPORTER, the professor narrated how he funds researches with his personal money since he started his career as a scientist.

“For so many of my master students, I’m the one funding their researches and experiments,” he said. “I’ve been dedicated to academics since 1982.”

According to him, when the patent on his invention was issued, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Eyitope Ogunbodede, in his congratulatory message, promised reimbursement, acknowledging the expenses borne by the inventor.

“When the patent was issued, I was summoned by the university, they promised to publicise and do the presentation in the presence of the principal officers of the university. The VC promised that I should be reimbursed. After all, I will use the funds to buy materials for other researches.

“Three months ago, I was contacted to do the financial implications and send to the Centre for Research, which I did on the 10th of July but I have not gotten any response,” he said.

Mr Aladesanmi officially retired on the 23 May 2018 but has not been paid for the contract service rendered for almost 3 months as promised by the Vice-Chancellor of the school.

“The Vice-Chancellor told me that I could not leave office because of my contributions. I was given a peanut in May when I retired. I was given 53 thousand naira as the salary for the month. Up till now, I’ve not been paid any dime since then. How will I eat and survive?” He asked rhetorically.

When speaking on how he was able to raise about a million naira to fund his invention, Mr Aladesanmi stated that during vacations, he travelled abroad to conduct analysis based on the samples of his experiments in Nigeria and he got paid for the analysis afterwards

“It’s when I go overseas to analyze some of the samples that I make money to survive,” He said

Meanwhile, the Professor commented about the poor attention given to education and, the slow and unyielding response to several applications for funding of his researches.

He said, ” I was told to apply for the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) but was later informed that my research can only be sponsored if the government runs adverts. That adverts come only once in a year if the government has not syphoned the funds meant for it.”

As contained in a document made available to CAMPUS REPORTER, the cost of his proposal for a research on an anti-malaria compound, cost Two million Naira but this has not been approved by the government.

“Nigeria is the US of Africa but the ways smaller countries like Botswana fund research are better than Nigeria. If I take this idea abroad, it will be stolen,” he said

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