The federal government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N8.5billion for research in medical sciences and other specialty areas in 2021, under the National Research Fund (NRF) scheme funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, made this disclosure on Wednesday July 28, at a three-day workshop for directors of research and development (R&D) of federal universities at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Training Institute, Abuja.
He said, “With your support, I made a case to the board of trustees to increase the NRF research grants from the initial seed money of N3billion, which was exhausted and N1billion was added between 2016 and 2019. But when I came, I argued that the seed money was not enough and that it should be yearly funding. And that was why I made a case for N5billion in 2019 and raised it to N7.5billion in 2020.
“However, the President approved another N7.5billion this year but, added N1 billion, because we intend to do serious research around medicine even in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stated.
According to him, TETFund intends to set aside some money for the Nigerian Medical Research Institute (NMIR) to resuscitate their vaccine production, adding that he had scheduled a meeting with the Director-General of NMIR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, and other professors of medicine from some universities across the country to achieve specific research objectives.
Bogoro, however, decried the failure of research institutes to establish a good relationship with universities for the purpose of promoting research and development, insisting that universities were also guilty of disregarding them. He stressed the need for collaboration between the universities and research institutes to understand what the institutes had been doing and offer assistance where necessary.
While urging participants to take the initiative of looking at why kidnapping has become so lucrative, he lamented that young engineers and technology experts were rather deploying their expertise to aid abductions in the country. He charged professors not to only parade themselves with titles, but also to engage in problem-solving research that would change things for the better in the country.
Earlier, TETFund’s Director of Research and Development, Dr. Salisu Bakare, noted that universities were naturally problem-solvers, adding that when universities fail to solve societal problems, the question remained whether they were 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 was the future of Nigeria.
He added that in a bid to achieve the mandate, TETFund had established centres of excellence in several universities, increased the national research fund, and constituted a committee currently working on a draft bill for the establishment of the National Research and Development Foundation. He urged participating institutions not to be left behind in efforts to retrain them and instill a culture of research with a view to boosting national development.