By Kuni Tyessi
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has urged the Federal Government to increase its annual funding for Research and Development (R&D) to $1 billion every year.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, made this call during the inauguration of TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee on Thursday in Abuja.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the recent increase of the research grant from N5 billion to N7.5 billion, Prof. Bogoro said massive investment in research would bring about the desired development in the country.
Speaking further, the TETFund boss also made a case for the promulgation of a law that will bring into full force a National R&D Foundation (NRDF) to deepen research in the country.
“To galvanize our vision towards making R&D the ace and game changer in our national development agenda, the need for an appropriate law to support the establishment of a National R&D Foundation (NRDF) cannot be overstated.
“We need a robust institutional framework and arrangement for the NRDF. I am recommending a minimum annual budgetary threshold of one billion dollars as the funding portfolio for this Foundation.
“When we consider the inevitable benefits of R&D and the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, this amount begins to look like a drop of water in the ocean – population of 200 million people in 2020 and projected to become double in 10 years for now,” he said.
Prof. Bogoro, who said the TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee was expected to come up with its own recommendation on the required amount that is suitable for efficient research activities in the country, called for a robust collaboration between researchers and the private sector to bring about all round development in the country.
” It is envisaged that the private sector of the economy should pick the gauntlet to steamroll the lofty initiative by taking ownership of it,” he said.
Prof. Bogoro lauded the recent performance of Nigerian universities in world’s ranking, saying TETFund intervention projects have continued to encourage such feats.
Inaugurating the Committee, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, charged members of the committee to put their best to the national assignment.
Represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, Adamu said that continued investment in research would herald a rebirth of Nigeria.
“Nigeria voted us into power predicated on our being able to transform our national aspirations and make them a national achievement.
“It is in recognition of this direction that the Executive Secretary, TETFund, presented his vision of a research driven nation and how to finance that ambition through the Board of Trustees (BOT)
“To a large extent, Nigeria’s future depends on you. You have been summoned to a national service that is not available to the rest of the 200 million population. It is a national calling that requires almost all of you,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Aminu Suleiman, said the work of the committee would open the windows of opportunities to tackle various developmental challenges confronting the country.
Suleiman, represented by Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya, lamented the way Nigeria has shown less concern to research, saying that many developed countries invested in research and development and thus helped to improve on their economy.
He said, “Research is the gateway of innovation. It is sad that while countries like the USA, Korea and the like have been investing in research and development, we seem to show less concern.”
He encouraged beneficiaries to take good advantage of the initiative to solve problems for the betterment of the country.
Responding, the Chairman of the over 160-member TETFund’s R & D Committee, Prof. Njidda M. Gadzama, said the epoch making event will transform the socio-economic sector by ensuring robust promotion of cutting-edge innovations.
“We promise to carry out our assignment with commitment and diligence and this will result in the R & D Culture and R&D Foundation to drive industrialization of the country,” he said.
The Standing Committee whose membership is drawn from the academic, industry and private sector, has the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, as one of the three Vice Presidents.