Engage archaeologists in solving COVID-19 problems, researcher tells govts.

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By Francis Onyeukwu

Dr Abidemi Babalola, Research Fellow, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, says governments should engage thorough breed archaeologists to meet the Coronavirus (COVID-19) challenges.

Babalola said this during an exhibition marking 60 years of excavations of archaeological materials in Igboukwu in Anambra on Wednesday.

The event held at the National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMMN) centre, Umudege, Igboukwu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exhibition was jointly organised by Babalola and Dr Kingsley Daraojimba of Archaeology and Tourism Department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

According to Babalola, from historical accounts, the COVID-19 pandemic which began in Wuham, China, was not the first of its kind in human history.

“If governments could engage the services of archaeologists, through their expertise, they can uncover how past pandemics recorded in the past were treated.

“Such findings might help end this present problem,” the archaeologists argued.

He added that the exhibition was part of three-year-old activities on the continuation of work on Igboukwu archaeological discovery which was started 60 years ago by Prof. Thurstan Shaw.

Prof. Anslem Ibeanu, the immediate past Head of the Department of Archaeology and Tourism, UNN, also called for the establishment of radiocarbon dating laboratory in Nigeria.

Ibeanu said such laboratory would help facilitate more archaeological discoveries capable of developing the tourism sub-sector in the country.

“If government invests in this area, it will help open the tourism industry which has the potential to provide jobs for millions of people in our nation,” he said.

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Dr Emeka Okonkwo, the current head of the department, said UNN and Cambridge University as well as other partners were working hard to get more information on the archaeological materials found in Igboukwu.

He said efforts were on to include Igboukwu in the world heritage list, adding that more assistance was required for the accomplishment of the target.

Also, Daraojimba, co-organiser of the event, said since 2018 when he and Babalola began the project, efforts had been made to integrate the community in advancing archaeological discovery projects.

“We have visited Igboukwu community several times, engaged primary school pupils across the three quarters of the town, with the aim of laying basic foundation on archaeological discovery here,” he said.

Wife of the late traditional ruler of Igboukwu, Nwakego Ezeh, thanked the Federal Government for the NCMMN centre in the area and also Prof. Shaw for pioneering Igboukwu archaeological discoveries.

Others who spoke at the event were Dr Alex Anozie, the traditional ruler of Igbo people living in Oyo State and Mr Christian Ike, the President-General of Igboukwu community, among others. (NAN)

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