The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, has called on stakeholders to galvanise support towards building a knowledge-based economy for the country.
Bogoro stated this while delivering a lecture at the 9th Convocation Ceremony of Veritas University, Abuja, with the theme: “forging partnerships in the triple helix model and the drive for the institutionalisation of Nigeria’s Knowledge economy.”
The TETFund boss, who noted that the country’s economy should translate into solving the problems of it’s citizens, said despite its place as Africa’s leading economy with a gross domestic product, GDP, projected to grow between 1.7 per cent and 2.0 per cent in 2021, its GDP is meaningless without solving the problems of its citizens.
According to him, the country must engage in problem-solving research and build a knowledge-based economy to ensure global competitiveness.
“Today investment in R&D is tomorrow’s sustainable revenue for the investing
nation. We can not afford to waste more time for reinventing the wheels when we can leverage on innovations across the globe to fast-track development.
“The obvious reality is that nations across the world are closing boarders due to the COVID-19 pandemic with
underling economic reasons. We must fix Nigeria by adding value to our natural resources for global competitiveness and sustainable knowlegde economy,” he said.
While lamenting that since after independence, Nigerian universities have been emphasising teaching at the expense of research, he noted that most of the research carried out in universities was for the purpose of acquiring degrees and not solving the nation’s socio economic problems.
“We have not injected science and technology of value addition into our produce,” he said.
He said part of the problem is because there has not been adequate commitment of funds into research and development in the country and that partly accounts for the failure of research in the country.
He added that despite periodically increasing the national research fund from N5 billion to N8.5 billion in 2021, the funds were still grossly inadequate.
The TETFund boss said the agency has been making a case for the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation in the country, adding that when operational, the foundation would source for over $2 billion as seed money to be injected into research.
He urged authorities of the Veritas University to enlist their support for the establishment of the R and D foundation and join hands in developing Nigeria’s knowledge-based economy.
He said the foundation will sufficiently reflect the triple helix model towards attaining competitiveness in the global economy, adding that it is science, technology and innovation that will make the difference in Nigeria’s economy.
“We are determined to support problem-solving research; unless we do so the universities are irrelevant,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chancellor of the university, Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama, who stressed the quality education offered by the university, said some graduates of the institution were gladly offered admissions in foreign institutions.
Kaigama expressed commitment that the university will continue to train students and equip them to develop self-confidence and become employers of labour, urging the graduands to remain focused and make the institution proud in their various fields of endeavor.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, in his convocation address, said over the years, the institution laboured to equip the students morally and academically to prepare them for the world of work and further studies.
Ichoku noted that the university will commence the faculty of law as soon as approval is given by the National Universities Commission, NUC.
He put the cost of constructing the law faculty of the university at N400 million, adding that construction work of the faculty will be concluded by June 2021.
On the impact of Covid-19 to the academic programme of the institution, he said the university utilised ICT to keep pace with its academic calendar during the lockdown and in keeping with Covid-19 protocols.
He noted that the Covid-19 pandemic was hampering universities to deliver their mandates, even as he called on universities to share experiences on how best to deliver their mandates.
Earlier in pre-convocation briefing, Ichoku disclosed that the university will award first-class certificates to 32 graduands among the 421 who have completed their course of studies and met all necessary requirements.