By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) on Thursday allocated the total sum of N12 billion to 12 public universities selected as pioneer TETFund Centres of Excellence (TCoEs) to lead research efforts in various fields.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, who presented the allocation letters to Vice Chancellors of the universities at the inauguration of the centres in Abuja, said two universities were selected from each of the six geopolitical zones.
Bogoro said the allocation covers a period of five years, during which the centres are expected to embark on problem-solving researches to enhance national development.
According to him, the aim of establishing the centres of excellence is to support strategic, applied research and expertise with potentials for industrial application, as well as bring together complementary resources needed for technical development and industrial application.
The TETFund boss said the initiative will also bridge the gap between researchers and users as well as stimulate the triple-helix relationship of the academia, governance and industry, and enhance scientific research being patronised by the industrial sector.
He said “each selected institution is expected to implement its own approved TCoE, With the objective to address a specific national development challenge through preparation of professionals, applied research and associated outreach activities fo partners, especially community services.”
He further charged the instructions to “enhance capacity to deliver national high-quality training to address development challenges; enhance capacity to deliver applied research to address the national development challenge.”
Bogoro also said the universities are to build and use industry sector partnerships to enhance impact of the centre on development and increase relevance of the Centre’s education and research, among others.
He assured the centres of the unflinching support of TETFund towards the realisation of the objectives of the initiative as they embark on the task of implementing the programme.
While drawing the attention of the selected institutions to the huge burden of expectations, he noted that the eyes of their peers and the country at large will be on them to succeed.
The 12 universities selected as TETFund’s pioneer centres of excellence include: University of Abuja, University of Benin, University of Ibadan, University of Maiduguri, and Bayero University Kano.
Others are Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, University of Uyo, Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, University of Jos, University of Lagos, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, and Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
Also speaking, the Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees, Alhaji Kashim Imam, expressed the fund’s committment to support tertiary education in the country in any way possible, stating that the fund shares in the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to impact beneficiary institutions with integrity, quality and accountability.
Imam, who noted that TETFund’s budget for the last two years was within the region of N250 billion respectively, said as at the end of October 2020, the fund had already captured about N251 billion as part of its budget for 2021, and is on course to surppass its budget for the past two years in 2021.
Responding on behalf of the Vice Chancellors of beneficiary universities, the Vice Chancellor of University of Benin, Prof Lilian Salami, thanked TETFund for the support and assured that the centres will work hard to meet the expectations of the fund.
Earlier, the Director of Research and Development Centre, TETFund, Dr Salihu Bature, expressed hope that all Nigerian universities will eventually become centres of excellence.
Bature said the fund envisioned that unless universities become centres of excellence, they cannot effectively serve the nation by meeting it’s developmental challenges.