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Professor Okogun Calls for Review Process to Boost Homegrown Drug Production

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Joseph Okogun, professor emeritus at the Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan

Stakeholders at every level of intervention have been advised to collaborate and review administrative processes and the approach leading to the identification of plants, scientific research, development and approval of remedies and drug production from Nigerian herbs and plants.

 

This call was made by Emeritus Prof. Joseph Okogun, professor emeritus at the Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan at a Public Lecture as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday by Bevekt Gedu Chemical Company.

 

The lecture was titled, Active, Bitter and Sweet – A lifetime of Research on Plants, Anti-Cancer Remedies and Drug Discovery.

 

In it, Prof. Okogun discussed plants as unrivaled organic chemical factories producing useful chemicals that man exploits for various purposes, and the reasons why the natural chemistry of plants is important to healthy living. He also spoke on a variety of active ingredients that have been discovered from everyday leaves and fruits found in Nigeria and West Africa that can either treat or manage a lot of common ailments in Nigeria and elsewhere at affordable cost.

 

“There are organic and natural remedies for the management of various diseases including cancer and HIV/AIDS using several decades of data from scientific research on plants by Bevekt Gedu. Out of Bevekt Gedu’s work a pure compound initially obtained from a Nigerian plant which has been adopted and about to be finalized for drug development as a blockbuster drug by IMI of USA. This is an indication that opportunities for long lasting and sustainable investments are abundant locally” sais Prof. Okogun.

 

The event was chaired by Engr. Adama Okoene, former MD Midwestern Oil. It was attended by healthcare professionals, academicians and other professionals from public and private sectors.

 

Prof. Okogun further explained the extraction, isolation, analysis and modification of active natural products for potential drug leads or drugs and molecular probes; and the role of different professionals in the process of drug discovery.

 

Plant materials are usually processed and powdered for extraction with solvents of various polarities so that different types of compounds are extracted by the different solvents. The solvents range from gases (carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon) in supercritical fluid states, petroleum ether through ethanol to water. For instance, the removal of solvent, the usually dark brown gum is separated into the component compounds in the mixture using various chromatographic methods with or without bioactivity screening depending on the nature of the targeted compounds.

 

He explained that Biological activity screening is done by pharmacognosists, pharmaceutical chemists, pharmacologists, biochemists and microbiologists to identify potential drugs and other biologically active compounds including pesticides. Toxicologists determine the toxicity including teratogenicity of identified potential drugs.

 

When biologically active compounds are identified, there may need to improve on the activity and or toxicity by modifying the structures using chemistry linked with biology. Identified potential drugs with known mechanism of actions are used as molecular probes in diagnosis and disease research.

 

Generally, drug discovery and production are result of a multi-disciplinary enterprise and require input from most human disciplines of study which Prof. Okogun gave as follows; botanists as taxonomists, chemists for isolation and chemistry/identification of active principles, zoologists and Animal breeders produce animals needed in in vitro and in vivo studies; while biochemists, pharmacognosist, pharmacologists and microbiologists conduct biological activity studies.

 

In addition, toxicologists do toxicity studies, clinician (human and veterinary) and pharmacist will do clinical studies and use-as medicines, while lawyers and entrepreneurs for patenting and marketing respectively.

 

All of these activities by different stakeholders will create a local value chain and lead to the multiplier effect of saving foreign exchange and thousands of jobs in the rural and urban areas.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Data Centre Dynamics Picks Rack Centre’s Sunday Opadijo as its 2018 Data Centre Manager of the Year

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Data Centre Dynamics (DCD), the global Data Centre Industry media and publishing company with an operation in over 42 different countries has announced Mr Sunday Opadijo, Chief Engineer, Rack Centre, Lagos, Nigeria as the winner of its 2018 Data Centre Manager of the Year.

In choosing the Data Centre Manager of the Year, the august panel of judges looked for exceptional success stories, triumph in an adverse situation, quick thinking, prevention of a catastrophic failure, ingenuity in solving tricky problems and traits of leadership that created a stronger team or a better workplace.

The DCD noted Mr Opadijo, a Data Centre expert with a wide range of experience in the IT and Telecommunication Industries, was a manager “working in the harshest of environmental conditions including high humidity and temperamental power grid but has maintained a 100 percent uptime and dealt with situations that would have sent shivers down most data centre manager’s spines.”

The annual global DCD Awards celebrates industry’s best data centre projects and most talented people and this year’s awardees, DCD says, “like previous ones were selected by an independent panel of data centre experts from hundreds of entries, arriving from across the world-” our expert team of independent judges pored over nearly two hundred entries from across the world, selecting the shortlist across fifteen categories, before the winners are announced”

Mr Opadijo, said it was an honour to be chosen as the Data Centre Manager of the Year by such a prestigious organisation -“ this award validates my dedication and commitment  to maintaining high quality standards  and  helping my organisation to maintain a strategic, competitive edge by providing strong positive leadership and driving excellent performance in the teams, projects, and services, in order to maximize the business value to the organization.”

Dr Ayotunde Coker, MD/CEO of Rack Centre expressed his delight at Sunday Opadijo’s award, noting this as a testament to the great world class talent we can cultivate in West Africa.  We are very proud indeed of Sunday’s achievements and his contribution to Rack Centre’s success.

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Social Lender Pledges Trust, Credit in Driving Financial Inclusion for Unbanked Population

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Faith Adesemowo, co-founder and CEO, Social Lender, has said that the company,  a lending solution platform, is committed to building a community of trust and credit to drive financial inclusion for the un-banked and under-banked.

Adesemowo maintained that Social Lender helps financial institutions to extend formal credit not to only salary earners but also to young professionals, small business owners, market women, entrepreneurs and students to leverage on their social reputation.

She, however, emphasized that the principles of lending is still the same across all platforms, adding that digital lending platforms are only “here to enable traditional lending to run more smoothly, efficiently and bring them to the space they don’t typically operate in”.

According to her, Social Lender does not focus on only on users with internet and smart phones, but also on the community of the individuals.

“Social Lender is not a lender but a platform that enables lenders target demography or segment of the market. We run a co-label and white-label partnerships with lenders and financial institutions,” she said.

She further explained the social reputation algorithm behind Social Lender, saying it is enough to guarantee willingness and ability to pay back loans.

Adesemowo said that the “social reputation score” has proven over the years to be a strong tool to ascertain willingness to repay loans.

“It takes into account the users’ community, engagement, network and several other indicators both online and offline. This is dependent on the data the user gives us permission to.

“The solution collects this data and processes it to give the user a social reputation score. It’s an artificial intelligence-based solution that gives users’ ability and willingness to repay small loans under a particular ticket size.”

She added that the ability to repay larger loans is a slightly different parametre, which technology can only do by reviewing transaction history of the user. The social reputation score focuses on “trust” or you could say “willingness to repay”.

“We have an end-to-end lending platform that can review users’ transaction history with some of our partner banks and partner financial institutions. This feeds into the partner specific business rules for lending specific amounts.  I should emphasize however that social reputation score is the main asset of Social Lender,” she emphasized.

She noted that open APIs and blockchain technology would afford lenders the opportunity to enjoy more services when using any lending platform.

“With Open APIs, more financial institutions will have access to data that was previously sited in silos that will help expand the space. This is happening gradually. We hope for a similar regulation to enforce financial institutions to share more data over time”, she concluded.

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SNEPCo’s Bonga Hits 800m Barrels Mark

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In 13 years of deep-water exploration, the Bonga vessel of the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) has produced over 800 million barrels of crude oil, confirming the company as a pacesetter in offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Guinea.

 

In its review of the performance of the Bonga Floating Production, Storage, and Offloading (FPSO) vessel for 2018, Bayo Ojulari, SNEPCo’s managing director, expressed satisfaction with the consistent availability and optimal performance of the vessel which began operation at the Bonga field in OML 118 in 2005 under a production sharing contract with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

 

“We are relentless in our pursuit of excellence on all fronts, and this we have consistently demonstrated with the management of Bonga to the satisfaction of our government and co-venture partners,” Ojulari said in Lagos on Monday.

 

“We leverage the Shell group’s global expertise in technology and new advancements in the industry to continue to unlock Bonga’s huge potential, one such example was the completion and inauguration of the Bonga North West Cross Over module in 2014, a first in the history of Shell which launched the beginning of a new phase delivering the reservoirs proven volumes and maintaining production of the FPSO at full capacity,” the SNEPCo MD added.

 

According to Ojulari, SNEPCo, with the support of NNPC and the co-venture partners – Total E & P, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, and ExxonMobil – has also done so much for Nigeria and Nigerians in its years of operations in revenue and taxes accruable to the government, and social investments in education, sports and health across the country.

 

In the last three years, SNEPCo has spent over $3million yearly in scholarships and other intervention in schools across Nigeria including the popular NNPC/SNEPCo Cradle-to-Career scholarships for the six years of secondary school for children from rural areas. The scholarships with over 375 beneficiaries since its commencement in 2014, cover tuition, boarding and maintenance allowances in leading schools in select Nigerian cities.

 

Ojulari said, “Our health and education programmes are aimed at improving healthcare; bridging the educational opportunity gap between urban and rural school populations; providing educational grants; improving ICT education; and supporting displaced persons.”

 

Elohor Aiboni, Bonga Asset Operations Manager, described the FPSO as a jewel noting however that SNEPCo’s achievements did not come without their challenges. “We overcome our challenges with the ingenuity and integrated delivery approach of our staff who work together every day to deliver one of the best assets in the world. “I’m proud to say that over 95 percent of SNEPCo’s staff are Nigerians and they have distinguished themselves as some of the best in the industry within and outside Nigeria.”

 

SNEPCo’s resounding performance, Aiboni said, had been delivered with zero fatality since first oil. “In 2016 the team also won the Shell CEO HSE Award for disciplined and focused safety culture.”

 

In recognition of its pioneering initiatives in Nigeria, SNEPCo was in early 2018 honoured as the best Nigerian oil and gas company in technology and innovation at the maiden edition of the  Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) held in Abuja for pioneering in-country Subsea Tree Refurbishment, a remarkable feat in local capacity potential which resulted in significant savings. This was the first time in the Nigerian oil and gas industry that a Subsea Tree was fully stripped down and refurbished locally with all its original functionality restored.

 

The Bonga field increased Nigeria’s oil production by 10% when output began in 2005 and has since stimulated the growth of support industries in addition to helping to create the first generation of Nigerian oil and gas engineers with deep-water experience. The FPSO has potential to produce 225,000 barrels of crude oil and 210 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

 

The FPSO vessel’s capacity was upgraded in recent years, allowing SNEPCo to expand the field with further drilling of wells in Bonga Phases 2 and 3 and through a subsea tie-back that unlocked the nearby Bonga North West field in August 2014.

 

Bonga North West is capable of producing approximately 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and was named Engineering Project of the Year 2015 at the prestigious Platts Global Energy Awards in New York.

 

 

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