Research Grants Must be Tailored towards Solving Nigeria’s Problems, Says TETFund

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Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has said the new focus of providing grants for research and development activities in universities and other tertiary institutions is to encourage academic researchers to come up with solutions to the contemporary challenges confronting the country.

It expressed worries about too much concentration on publication of research outcomes rather than focusing on addressing myriad challenges staring the country in the face.

Accordingly, the agency held a week-long capacity building workshop in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) for researchers drawn from selected universities in Nigeria, especially against the backdrop of a story in one of the online platform, which alleged that lecturers were misappropriating research funds to buy cars, build houses and other frivolities.

The TETFund’s Director of Research and Development, Dr. Salihu Bakari, while making clarifications, said the story was blown out of proportion and it had no basis on the issues at stake.

He admitted that there were little infractions, saying the idea was to advise academics on the appropriate use of the funds and to create a paradigm shift from the old way of thinking.
“I won’t call it diversion, there is nothing like diversion anywhere because TETFund by law is supposed to disburse and administer funds, so there are always guidelines.

“So if there are guidelines for the application of monies, anytime we find misapplication or infractions, TETFund will pulse further disbursement and ask the recipient to account for the monies given before, TETFund has done much by producing thousands of PhD holders, including sponsoring so many industrial based researches.”

While buttressing the importance of the workshop, Bakari said academics are meant to use their knowledge in bridging gaps hindering developmental initiatives as it concerns all strata of the Nigerian society.

He said there are many misconceptions regarding the functions of TETFund as an intervention agency.
“This workshop is meant to set the tone for a paradigm shift, TETFund is now moving towards content-based intervention in the area of research and development; for too long we have been emphasising teaching at the expense of research.

“For long, universities have been carrying out research for publication and not for development and now government is investing monies in applied research because research should be problem-solving, in other words, lecturers should be seen at the forefront in diversifying the economy, making sure that the economy is knowledge-based, solving our problems through research, not with oil alone,” he stated.