Written by Godfrey AKON

Experts demand establishment of national research foundation

Research experts pulled together by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, to deepen cutting-edge research in Nigeria have advocated the establishment of a National Research Foundation, NRF, to articulate research efforts in the country.

Speaking at the presentation of their interim report in Abuja, Co-Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee to Deepen the Research and Development Mandate of TETFund, Prof Placid Njoku, noted that Nigeria currently has no national research hub where TETFund could draw guidance.

Njoku lamented that research at tertiary institutions in the country was left at the discretion of individual researchers and the results of such inquests have no relationship with the national development agenda.

He decried that everybody was strictly on his own and that explains why their researches are sitting on the shelf as what they are doing is not related to the core development system of the nation.

“In the process of carrying out its duties, the committee observed that there is no national research hub where TETFund could go and draw guidance.

“Research at tertiary institutions in Nigeria is left at the discretion of individual researchers; they decide what they want to research on, seek funds from anybody, and at the end of the day, publish the results of their study, and in fact, there is no relationship between what they are doing and what we may call the national development agenda.

“The is a need for a national research foundation which must be a hub that must articulate all the research efforts of Nigeria including funding, defining areas of interest and what to do when you have results that have relevance to the nation,” he said.

According to him, the needs of the society should be the key element that drives research, adding that to operationalised research efforts in the country, key stakeholders such as government, institutions and industries need to work together in defining what direction Nigeria’s research must go.

Placid expressed delight at the recent establishment of research departments in all Nigerian universities by the National Universities Commission, NUC, urging TETFund to use them as a major platform for coordinating research in tertiary institutions.

In his remarks, co-chairman of the committee, Mr Tope Toogun, stressed the importance of economic development to the country, stating that unfortunately for decades, Nigeria missed the connection between research and development and economic growth.

Toodun said despite a recent promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, he said without robust research and development and innovation agenda, the country cannot get there.

He added that to lift 100 million people out of poverty the economy must be good and for the economy to be good, research and innovation must be taken seriously.

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, said the report has laid the pathway for the standing committee on research and development of the fund to follow.

Bodoro disclosed that about 128 applications for TETFund research grant were successful, adding that N4 billion, representing about 80 per cent of the N5 billion National Research Fund, would soon be accessed by the researchers.

The TETfund boss pledged to increase the fund in the 2020 budget of the agency, while announcing that President Buhari has also ordered a national research summit to take place next year because of the importance he places on research.



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