The disregard with which we treat research and researchers in this part of our world is partly responsible for the relative lack of data and statistics in many fields of human endeavours in Nigeria and Africa.
Without data and statistics, meaningful socio-political and economic policies that affect human lives will be impossible. Statistics is the bedrock of informed and workable policies. Decisions made about complex issues without statistical inputs usually result in failures.
But data are gathered only through rigorous researches, whether in the core sciences, social science or in the arts. One of the major research instruments through which these data are gathered is the questionnaire used in survey.
Often, researchers trudge and traverse the streets, into offices, homes and schools to practically beg people relevant to the areas of their studies to respond to simple questions in questionnaires. Some also ask for sampling frames (a complete listing of all the elements in the population such as voters register, radio logs for content analysis, etc.
In our country, many of these researchers are usually rebuffed because the respondents, public or private officials who are in positions to provide those information and research materials believe they have nothing to benefit from the exercise. Such mindset is wrong. Sometimes, when some people accept those survey questionnaire instruments, they dump them somewhere or provide false and misleading information that invalidate the research outcome. These are ethically wrong.
Truly, every individual in the society benefits in one way or other from researches. When government provides new social amenities due to a research that revealed the pains members of the public go through as a result of lack of those social services, the beneficiaries invariably include those who refused to respond to researchers’ questionnaires, or public officials who refused to furnish researchers with sampling frames.
We may decide to pursue one academic programme or the other in which we will be required to cite or review the works of previous researchers. If all of us were cold, unkind and unresponsive to researchers who approached us for responses, how can we and our children in good consciences, cite their works when pursuing our own studies?
We must, as a matter of urgency, change our negative attitudes towards researches and researchers. In civilised societies, researches are funded by the public through government or private aids and endowments. This is in recognition of the prime place research occupies in the socio-economic and political development of the society.
If honest responses to research questionnaires and provision of sampling frames are the only contributions we have to make to ensure data are available to us and to future generations, let us do it with utmost commitment.