The absence of a regulatory framework and platform has weakened research and development of our nation in all spheres of development. This, has, no doubt, been of a major concern to government and its agencies responsible for drawing a template and blueprint for the effective take-off of a knowledge-based economy and the funding of innovative research in the country.
Just few months ago, the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, inaugurated an ad hoc committee comprising of highly intellectual Nigerians, who are making waves in their chosen fields in the Diaspora, as well as their home-based counterparts in Nigeria to revitalize research and development in the nation’s higher institutions of learning as one of the core mandates of TETFUND and also the funding of centres of excellence for innovative research across the six geo-political zones in the country.
This, according to Professor Bogoro, “is to replicate African centres of excellence being prompted by international agencies in order to encourage indigenous innovative research and learning activities,” which, he echoed recently at a meeting with the management and Governing Council of the Usmanu DanFodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) in Sokoto.
Also, according to Professor Bogoro, TETFUND is vigorously focused on supporting relevant research and development in tertiary institutions to fast-tract industrial growth towards enhancing productivity and human empowerment. He described good academic leadership as the backbone of success in all institutions, while poor leadership negatively affects all professional progression and development.
The power of commercialization of research and development has been recognized by both the developed and developing economies across the globe, that the nature and demand of modern economy is a fundamental stimulus for the growth of university–industry relationship. The need for investment in research and development as well as human capital development has also been stressed overtime. Indeed, this is globally acknowledged as the key to economic development of any nation, and Nigeria is not an exception.
The Executive Secretary said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved
N5 billion National Research Fund to stimulate progress in the academia geared towards application of academic researches that would facilitate growth in various sectors. While TETFUND has also provided N5 million intervention for producing Journals with Scholars’ content targeted at addressing our immediate challenges.
In a press release issued by the Executive Secretary of Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI), Abuja, Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele, emphasized that in developing countries all over the world, industries look up to universities for research and potential innovators in the development and commercialization of research findings, and, as such, most of these university researchers give access to modern technology and management systems in industries.
According to the civil society organization, higher education institutions are globally positioned to be the bridge between the productive society and knowledge growth. That, in spite of the fact that research and development is central to the country’s development, that the absence of a national platform for the regulation and strengthening of research and development has hampered the growth of the nation. It is a well-known fact that the level of research and development infrastructure and productivity in Nigeria remains unacceptably low at 0.02 per cent, while it has grown astronomically in other African countries like Rwanda.
It is in this vein that TETFUND, propelled by Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro continues to advocate for the establishment, by law, of a national research and development foundation that will ensure a coordinated national framework for the sustenance and implementation of researches. Such a foundation, when established, will promote an effective framework for interface among universities, government and private sector, especially the industrial sub-sector of the economy.
As Professor Bogoro has reiterated this in several of his paper presentations in the country, he has emphasized the inadequacy of incentives for research and development in the country’s tertiary institutions and called for concerted efforts from all to join hands in growing Nigeria’s economy through knowledge-based researches. He believes that, for long, Nigeria has been paying attention to physical infrastructure, but now was time for innovative researches to make the physical structures meaningful.
According to the Executive Secretary to TETFUND, during the inauguration recently of the ad hoc committee, he said, very soon, researchers in Nigerian institutions will have no cause to be poor, even as he decried the low level of research in the nation’s tertiary institutions. He said, “Key measurement parameters for the Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the anchor for Nigeria’s economic transformation blueprint, is dependent on Science, Engineering and Technology, meaning that the advancement in SET is dependent on research and development.” He added that “Innovative research and its consequent commercialization is the driver that moves and nurtures the engine of modern economic growth, that it is an important driver of poverty alleviation.”
CWAI, therefore emphasizes that higher education institutions the world over, are positioned to be the bridge between a productive society and knowledge-based growth, which has been a strong collaborative partnership among higher education institutions, government, private sector, and the industry, otherwise referred to as the “Triple Helix Model.” The confluence of this collaborative partnership is a powerful one that drives the economy of nations and, as such, Professor Bogoro’s initiative should be applauded and encouraged by all and sundry for Nigeria to move to the next phase of its development.
Professor Bogoro said: “Mutual dispute between academia and industries is among the bases that forced universities not to run appropriately and emphasized on research on problem-solving suitable to our Nigerian content and environmental growth are the best options to industrial development,” adding that, “… many (Nigerian) universities are becoming stronger, competing with foreign universities in terms of quality research harvests and academic excellence.”
Professor asserted: “Intervention focus is more on innovative research to enrich content components than infrastructure development and funds may be doubled in coming years.” He further noted that provision of interdisciplinary laboratory was also in the pipeline to emulate other developed nations in promoting intellectual harmony and knowledge-sharing as well as commended the Federal Government’s efforts at bringing in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other viable options.
Our civil society organization, CWAI, encourages the handlers of the Nigerian economy that, with the needed global economy and the new rapid growth and advancement to alleviate the socio-economic issues, there is need for national re-calibration and re-sensitization towards sustainable innovative research and development.
In view of the foregoing, CWAI, therefore passes a vote of confidence on the Professor Bogoro-led TETFUND initiative on funding of the Centres of Excellence for innovative research and the implementation plan for research and development coupled with the management’s efforts on fiscal reforms of accountability, transparency and good governance practices, and the repositioning of the apex institution. The organization also enjoins all well-meaning Nigerians to support this transformational initiative of moving the country from physical structure to a knowledge-based economy hinged on research and development of the economy for accelerated growth in all ramifications.
As a result of this, TETFUND has issued the award of grants and sponsorship to 39 research proposals that have qualified for funding from the NRF Grants after the National Research Fund Screening and Monitoring Committee (NRFS&MC) screened 1,846 research proposals submitted to the Fund following the NRF call for proposals, which total value of the grant cutting across three thematic areas of research as approved by the Board of Trustees of the Fund this year is N1,024,602,374 (One Billion, Twenty-Four Million, Six Hundred and Two Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy Four Naira) only.