Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Professor Suleiman Bogoro has inaugurated four major projects worth about N4.9 billion at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi with a charge on lecturers to strengthen research development in Nigerian universities for the development of tertiary institutions in the country.
The agency is also to spend N1 billion for the fencing of the Gubi Permanent Site of the university.
Speaking in Bauchi while unveiling the Centre for Science Technology and Entrepreneurship Development in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, Bogoro said TETFund will be supporting universities to strengthen research documentations in all tertiary institutions in the country.
He described good academic leadership as the backbone of success in all institutions, while poor leadership negatively affects all professional progression and development.
“TETFund will fund 12 centres of excellence for innovative research in the six geopolitical zones with two centres each in each of the zones in the country. The centres will be promoted with special funds allocation in each of the zones. It is disheartening to discover that research is now tailored more on promotions and certifications rather than solving problems. This trend must change by employing quality renowned academic leadership and attitude.
“In the TETFund budget for 2020, we are adding 50 per cent of what we disbursed last year for research grants. We are budgeting this year N7.5 billion as against N5 billion earmarked for research grants last year.
“Researches on problem solving suitable to our Nigerian content and environmental growth are the best option for industrial development. Nigerian universities are becoming stronger, competing with foreign universities in terms of quality research harvest and academic excellence. I am very happy to announce to you that ATBU is one of the universities in the country that is in the forefront of research,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice- Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Abdulazeez commended the federal government through TETFund for providing the necessary funding to execute the projects, which he said will accelerate the development of the university.
He said the four projects include the Central Laboratory Block and College of Medicine Phase II, Gubi Campus, Clinical Complex College of Medicine, ATBU Teaching Hospital and Centre for Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Development, Tafawa Balewa.
Meanwhile, TETFund is to spend N1 billion for the fencing of the Gubi Permanent Site of the institution. The fence is said to be about 21Km².
Bogoro announced this while addressing the senate of the institution during the inauguration of some projects executed by TETFund.
“I started something about four years ago, I made some money available to secure ATBU, it was N400 million and when I was disengaged, my predecessor stopped the money. He could not determine what happened next, I replaced him, it was the work of God.
“So we came back and reinstated our fencing project and this time, it is N1 billion. I will not be happy until you secure this place with a physical fence.”
He announced that TETFund is initiating the establishment of two diary centres of excellence to cater for the agricultural needs of the northeast
“In the context of insecurity, Nigeria’s economy is largely agro-based and it is a pain for me to note as an agro scientist that in the northeast that overtime and it remained so, we have the largest livestock resources in Nigeria.
“I realised that the diary industry is embarrassingly about the weakest. In the northwest, we have the agric complex and they are very strong diary facilities. In the North central zone, we have the NVRI, Com and in the Northeast, we don’t a research and cevelopment center for diary,” he stated.
He therefore disclosed that “in the 2020 budget, we will establish two centers of excellence by geopolitical zone for diary” with one to be established in ATBU, Bauchi for the northeast.
The executive secretary said it is a shame that Nigeria wanted to export cassava which was considered substandard, adding that it was sad that science could not be injected into the development of cassava which was to be exported.
“For me as an agriculturist, it is a shame that two years ago, Nigeria had no land to cultivate and export cassava and of course, our research could not have value. Even the packaging, we could not even inject science into it, from basic to applied science, we couldn’t inject it, we were considered substandard.
He said over 50 per cent of what TETFund gave out last year as grant was primarily for research development.
He urged the management of ATBU to give more priority to the development of research in order to reposition the institution which he said was one of the best in the country in the past.
He stated that wherever he finds himself, he will position himself as a worthy ambassador of the institution, his alma mater.