President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sum of N8.5 billion for the conduct of ground-breaking research in medicine and other areas in 2021, under the National Research Fund, NRF, scheme funded by the Tertiary Education Trust, TETFund.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this on Wednesday at a 3-Day Workshop for Directors of Research and Development of public universities in Nigeria held at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Training Institute, Maitama, Abuja.
Bogoro said “With your support, I made a case to the board of trustees to increase the NRF research grants, from initially we had a seed money of N3 billion it got exhausted and N1billion was added between 2016 and 2019.
“But when I came, I decided to revolutionise it and I said it is not a question of seed money let it be annual money. And that is why I made a case for N5 billion in 2019 alone. 2020 we raised it to N7.5 billion.
“This year Mr President has approved another N7.5 billon but, guess what, with additional N1 billion that we intend to do ground breaking research around medicine even in respect of the Covid-19 challenge.
The TETFund boss said the fund is intending to put money at the Nigerian Medical Research Institute, NMIR to resuscitate their vaccine production.
He added that he has scheduled a meeting with the Director-General of NMIR, Prof Babatunde Salako, to be joined by brilliant professors of medicine from some universities across the country for the purpose of achieving specific research objectives.
Bogoro however decried the failure of research institutes to have the appetite to establish a good relationship with universities for the purpose of promoting research and development, stating that universities are also guilty of disregarding them.
He stressed the need for collaboration between the universities and research institutes to know what the institutes are doing and offer assistance where necessary.
While urging participants at the workshop to take the initiative of looking at why kidnapping has become so lucrative, the TETfund boss lamented that young engineers and technology experts were rather deploying their expertise to aid the growing wave of abductions across the country.
He challenged university professors not to only parade themselves with titles but to engage in problem-solving research that will change things for the good of the nation.
Earlier, TETFund’s Director of Research and Development, Dr Salisu Bakare, noted that universities are by nature problem-solvers, adding that when universities are not solving problems of the society, the question remains whether they are achieving their mandates.
Bakare restated the call for Nigeria to transit to a knowledge economy, stressing that the R&D centre of excellence in TETFund was established for this purpose as research and development represents the future of Nigeria.
According to him, in a bid to achieve this mandate, the fund has established centres of excellence in several universities, increased the national Research fund and constituted a committee that is currently working on a draft bill for the establishment of the National Research and Development Foundation.
He urged participating institutions at the workshop not to be left behind in the effort of the fund to retrain them and instil a culture of research to enhance national development.