Nigerian, Foreign Partner Win $100,000 NLNG Science Prize



Bennett Oghifo


A Nigerian, Dr. Mathew Aneke and his Chinese collaborator, Professor Meihong Wang have been declared winner of the 2019 The Nigeria Prize for Science, worth $100, 000.

Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Science Prize and an NLNG Science Prize Laureate, Prof. Akpoveta Susu, who announced the winner at a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, said the duo presented an outstanding work on ‘Carbon Capture, Carbon Utilisation, and Biomass Gasification and Energy Storage for Power Generation’ that deserved the win.

Earlier in the year, the Advisory Board of The Nigeria Prize for Science announced the call for entries for the annual prize, centred on the theme “Climate Change: Erosion, Drought and Desertification”. The focus for this year’s prize is significant because the adverse impact of climate change is the major cause of soil degradation and low productivity. 

Wang is a Professor of Energy Systems at the University of Sheffield. He is a Chartered Engineer and has published over 100 technical papers and industrial reports. Dr Aneke, a graduate of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield with expertise in process design and modelling, power systems analysis, power generation, renewable energy and environmental protection, amongst others. He has authored and co-authored 27 research works.

The decision on the winning entry of The Nigeria Prize for Science was reached by a Panel of Judges, led by Professor Deborah Ajakaiye, the first female Physics Professor in Nigeria and the first Black African to be awarded a Lifetime Honorary Fellowship of the Geological Society of London, England. Other members of the panel are Professor Peter Nnabude, a Professor of Soil Science and Land Resources Management at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and Professor Abdullahi Emmanuel Bala, a Professor in the Department of Geology, Federal University, Lokoja.

On the Prize’s Advisory Board are Professor Barth Nnaji, renowned scientist and former Minister of Power; Professor Michael Adikwu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja and also a past winner of the Science Prize; Professor Elijah Mshelia, a nuclear physicist; and Chief Dr. Nike Akande, two-time Minister and past President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In its 15 years history, this is the first time a non-Nigerian has been awarded the Prize, which is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG). This is also the third joint winners’ award since inception in 2004, according to Prof. Susu.

Making reference to the judges’ report, Prof Susu said the works addressed core environmental issues notably deforestation, carbon production, associated climate change and the resultant effects such as erosion, drought and desertification. He said that their joint works “demonstrated innovative and holistic strategy to tackle climate change impacts and therefore merits the Nigeria Prize for Science Award 2019.

“This year’s award has highlighted the international nature of the award which involved a joint research between a Nigerian and a non-Nigerian, both collaborating on works which precipitate great potential for solutions to the global issue of climate change. Our hope is that the award of this Prize would in its own little way provide a spark that would reinvigorate the passion of our budding scientists in finding solutions to our everyday issues.

“We congratulate Professor Wang and Dr. Aneke for a job well done. They have been consistent in their research efforts geared towards development of environment friendly and alternative power supply technologies. We also commend the Panel of Judges for the diligence, which was apparent in the delivery of this assignment. We are particularly pleased that in evaluating the entries, they upheld the objectives of the Prize, which seeks to identify and promote excellence in utilizing scientific knowledge for the achievement of desired solutions,” he said.

He later announced “Innovations for Sustainable Food Security” as the theme for the 2020 Prize.

NLNG’s General Manager External Relations and Sustainable Development, Eyono Fatayi-Williams said NLNG was confident that an objective and qualitative decision was made on this year’s edition of the prize.

The general Manager, who was represented by NLNG’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager Sophia Horsfall, said they trusted “the judgement of the Panel of Judges, who have proven expertise on the issue of Climate Change, and the Advisory Board members, who bring credibility to the process by ensuring excellent results.”

She stated that the announcement was memorable for NLNG as the Prize marks 15 years, which coincides with the Company’s anniversary of 20 years of successful operation and 30 years of incorporation, adding that the Prize was inspired by NLNG’s vision of helping to build a better Nigeria, through deliberate support for scientific research and celebration of excellent works. 

The first winners for the Prize in 2004 were Professor Akpoveta Susu and his then doctoral student, Kingsley Abhulimen. In 2005, there was no winner. Professor Michael Adikwu won the Prize in 2006. In 2007, as it was in 2005, there was no winner, however, in 2008, Dr. Ebenezer Meshida emerged winner.

Professor Andrew Nok and Professor Akii Ibhadode won the Prize in 2009 and 2010 respectively. There was no winner until 2017 when the Prize was jointly awarded to three entries by Ikeoluwapo Ajayi, Ayodele Jegede, Bidemi Yusuf, Olugbenga Mokuolu and Chukwuma Agubata. In 2018, Dr. Peter Ngene was awarded the Science Prize, for his work in ’Innovation in Electric Power’.