By Olayiwola Toheeb
Onilude, Professor of Microbiology while delivering the University of Ibadan’s 454th inaugural lecture on Thursday, 14th March, 2019 said University of Ibadan (UI) can generate electricity for the whole nation through bioelectricity if given 1% of the whole amount Nigeria spent between 1999 and 2015 on provision of electricity in one form or the other. The lecture –held at the University’s Internaltional Conference Centre — titled “Addicted to Challenge: Man, Microbes and the Quest for Energy” was the third in the Department of microbiology since its inception in 1980.
He said using an inserted cathode-in-anode microbial electrochemical reactor designed for bioelectricity production, voltages and currents enough to power light emitting diodes (LED) bulbs and a digital clock were generated by Ajunwa et al in 2018. “According to the Federal office of statistics, Nigeria between 1999 abd 2015 spent over $16.5b on provision of electricity in one form or the other. Commencing with cottage provisions which is the in-thing with industrial scale-ups in emerging economies like India, I believe given just 1 in 100 of this amount, this university could be challenged to work out a grand plan to through a scale up process to produce electricity for the nation“, He said.
Also, while speaking on enzyme production of microorganism, he said investigation has also been done on the characteristics of “some hydrolytic enzymes synthesized by Fungi isolated from selected wood samples in South Western Nigeria and the biopulping potential of the producing fungal isolates“. He said pulping is done using either of mechanical pulping, electrical pulping or chemical pulping procedures which are characterized with economically unfriendly, high cost of chemicals, destructive tendency during mechanical pulping among others. He then expressed optimism in the use of hydrolytic enzymes from microorganism which have been proven to break down the bonds and release “locked up” material for pulp making within a short period of time.
He registered his displeasure at the condition of the three paper mills in Nigeria — Jebba paper mill in Kwara state, Oku-Iboku paper Mills (in Cross river state) and Iwopin pulp and paper Mills ( in Iwopin, Ijebu Waterside, Ogun State). He said “While the first two have closed down, the third has never worked for a single day! On a recent visit to Iwopin, I wept for Nigeria. A multimillion dollar project made up of Indian and Russian paper production technology ( combined) with sprawling housing estates, Staff Club all lying fallow after 43 years of installation! All covered up with bush.”
The inaugural lecturer, Professor Onilude, during the course of the lecture collapsed and when resuscitated concluded the lecture while sitting.
He recommended that the Federal government should as a matter of urgency declare Emergency in Nigerian Education, legislate against the introduction of and use of energy drink dotting our cities as this will aside saving our foreign exchange also save the emotional and hormonal development of the youth and to provide funds and enabling environment for enzyme production, distribution and sales to Nigerian industries.
He concluded saying ” Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, in concluding this lecture, I will say that in the quest for energy by both man and microbes, it is still a draw as man is winning some as evidenced by the following from our research: cereal substitution with starter degraded agro wastes in animal management; bioenergy ( in form of bioethanol, biodiesel and bioelectricity) development from wastes; weaning food from starter fermented substrates; enzyme-mediated industrial processes for biopulping; biobleaching and de-lignification; enzyme production and usage in Nigeria industries; enhanced agrowaste management using whole cells and enzymes for production of value-added material and discovery/development of new antimicrobials from actinomycetes“