A life-long goal
"This workshop is an avenue for securing my life-long goal of being a part of improving science in Nigeria and Africa as a whole," says Toyin.
She explains why skills such as GC-MS are vital for the future of the Nigerian economy. "Until now in Nigeria we have always depended on oil," she says, “but because of the global decline in the price of oil the government has become really keen on diversifying the economy, and analytical chemists will always be required for this. A lot of effort is being put into bringing back industries such as manufacturing, and when they come back they will need quality chemists."
Adebola, known as Bola, was trained in GC-MS at Cardiff University in 2009, and works to monitor persistent organic pollutants in the environment. "When we talk about emerging pollutants,” she explains, "GC-MS is the best and most versatile technique. And to be able to do that quantitatively, you need to understand the basic principles, the handling of the instrument, and the maintenance of the instrument."
Bola’s interest in chemistry was first prompted by curiosity about the scarcity of women in science in Nigeria. Determined to flout the norm, she soon found herself studying for an undergraduate degree supervised by renowned environmentalist Professor Oladele Osibanjo, where she quickly discovered the joy of using scientific methods to solve problems. "I so much enjoyed looking at problem areas in the environment and trying to offer a solution", she says.
Now a lecturer in the department of chemistry at the University of Ibadan, she is looking forward to using the workshop to improve her teaching and mentoring skills, and to brush up on her knowledge of GC-MS, especially the maintenance and trouble-shooting aspects.
The programme is also a great opportunity for the universities that are hosting the workshops.
"I am very happy to be associated with this wonderful initiative”, says Professor O. T. Ogundipe, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos. “We are happy that our university has been chosen as one of the four centres for this training workshop. I hope that the research output in our universities and research institutes will increase by this effort."
The 18 delegates to be trained were selected from over 200 applicants. As well as attendees from Nigeria, delegates are also travelling from Cameroon and Sudan to attend. They will be joined by the 2 local trainers, and trainers from Kenya and the UK, including one volunteer from GSK. The skills that they learn will benefit not only their own research, but that of their colleagues and future generations of analytical chemists in Africa.