By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says cutting-edge research in the nation’s defence industry remains one of the best bets in bringing the desired peace and security in the country.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, stated this in Abuja while unveiling a 13-man Defence and Security Research and Development Subcommittee to lead efforts on collaborative research in defence and operations.
Bogoro, who called on the Nigerian Army to intensify research on defence, innovation and technology, said the defence and military sectors of any nation can only effectively protect its citizens by injecting discoveries made possible by research.
Speaking further at the event which took place at the Nigerian Army headquarters, the TETFund boss said warfare has gone digital and nuclear, which means injection of time, technology and innovation.
“And today, unlike what we would have thought about immediately post-independence, we saw the military by the colours of the uniform they wore and the beautiful berets, but I tell you contemporary military is known and associated with contemporary innovations,” he said.
He said TETFund decided to put in place a Research and Development Standing Committee, which is chaired by Prof Njiddah Gadzama, with vice chairmen drawn from the industry, academia, and government in line with the triple helix concept.
According to him, the Nigerian academic community who are natural leaders in research globally, historically have been travelling with one hand for too long, adding that this time they want research to solve problems of Nigeria’s economy, technology and multiple issues.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee, Gadzama, said no country has made it without a strong research and development component of the government.
He described the army as a special group he was happy to tag along in research efforts, adding that the 160 members of the standing committee are highly specialised people put together.
He said if the proposed national research and development foundation is created, the military would enjoy it tremendously, adding that if the foundation was formed long time ago, 1965 for example, today the country would be reaping huge benefits.
Gadzama called on the military to support the committee in actualising its vision of establishing a national research foundation.
He disclosed that apart from the military, the committee had twelve more research sub-groups including agriculture, environmental resources, medicine, pharmaceuticals, ICT, digital economy, petroleum resources, solid mineral and mining, industrialisation, engineering technology and material science, infrastructural development, education, energy, governance, social development and internal security.
Responding, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, backed the call for the establishment of a national research and development foundation, pledging that the military would urge its partners to key into the foundation.
Buratai disclosed that the Nigerian Army has been engaged in research and development for a long time, adding that over the years, it has participated in research and development exhibition workshops both at home and abroad.
“In our desires to carry out innovation and research and development that the department of innovation and transformation was established and over the years it has participated in several research and development exhibitions, seminars, workshops both at home and abroad.
“Our Nigerian Army engineers, Nigerian Army signals, and in fact, intelligence and military bodies in various forms and ways embark on research and development; with particular interest in the rechargeable blasting device which was the work of research carried out by Nigerian Army Engineers which has proven to be very useful in demolition and other field operations,” he said.
He called for support for the Nigerian Army Simulation Centre, which is making efforts to domesticate some of the training received by officers, stating that developed countries in the world are where they are today because of research and development.
According to him, with research, more jobs would be created and idle youths would be taken off the streets, even as he called on Ministries, departments and agencies to key in to develop a knowledge based economy for the country.
Earlier, the Coordinator of the Defence and Military Subcommittee, Air Vice Marshal Onyemaechi Osahor, who articulated the objectives of the subcommittee, said its “effort is aimed at enhancing the attainment of self-reliance of the armed forces of Nigeria in platform and equipment holding through collaborative research with the academia and industry.”
Osahor further noted that TETFund’s standing committee on R&D was put in place in order to project Nigeria into a knowledge based economy through need-based well-articulated and funded research and development.