By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has called on researchers in the country to focus more on solving the problems facing society instead of channeling their energy on getting their names on research journals.
The Fund, which made this call during a capacity building workshop for Nigerian universities’ researchers in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, expressed its readiness to always provide grants for research and development activities in tertiary institutions.
On the news making round in some quarters that lecturers were using research grants to buy cars and acquire properties, TETFund’s Director of Research and Development, Dr Salihu Bakari, said the story was blown out of proportion and it had no basis on the issues at stake.
He said, “I won’t call it diversion, there is nothing like diversion anywhere because TETFund by law is supposed to disburse and administer Funds, so there are always guidelines.
“So if there are guidelines for application of money, anytime we find misapplication or infractions, TETFund will pause further disbursement and ask the recipient to account for the monies given before,” he said.
While saying TETFund has sponsored many academics for Ph.D programmes as well as several industrial based researches, Bakari said lecturers are meant to use their knowledge in bridging gaps hindering developmental initiatives as it concerns all strata of the Nigerian society.
“This workshop is meant to set the tone for paradigm shift, TETFund is now moving towards content based intervention in the area of research and development, for too long we have been emphasizing teaching at the expense of research.
“For long universities have been carrying out research for publication and not for development and now government is investing money in applied research because research should be problem solving, in other words lecturers should be seen at the forefront in diversifying the economy, making sure that the economy is knowledge based, solving our problems through research not with oil alone, “he said.
Also speaking at the week-long event, former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Bamiro, debunked claims of misappropriation of research grant within the academic community.
He said few isolated cases where some academics have been found wanting, cannot pass for a fair judgement, to say that researchers generally fleece grants given to them.
“The National Research Fund where I have been the Chairman, we don’t just give money then close our eyes, first of all any grant given is released in three tranches, first tranche, you will get 60per cent to enable you kick off, as soon as you get that, somewhere down the line, you get what we call monitoring and evaluation.
“It is a panel or group of about four or five people who will visit you and will have a copy of what your research is all about, that is your proposal and budget estimates, it is only when we are satisfied that the research is moving in the right direction, and that you have budget discipline, and confirming that the budget is being spent accordingly and that you are also having results as expected, it is after such conditions are meant, that we can approve that the second tranche should be given to you,” the former VC said.