By Felix Khanoba
The Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has approved an increase in national research fund’s allocation from N7.5 billion to N8.5 billion for 2021.
The BoT also announced a total of N5 billion in special interventions to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) to be captured in the 2021 budget.
Chairman, TETFund BoT, Kashim Imam, disclosed this at a 2-day capacity building workshop for heads of beneficiary institutions and staff of TETFund centres of excellence, in Abuja.
Imam said the intervention to UNILAG, which was on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, was also carried out in the University of Abuja in 2020.
He stressed the importance of research as a prerequisite for national development, adding that no nation can develop without research.
He, however, noted that research was a very delicate balance for TETFund as it is invisible, adding that as a politician, development is counted in terms of physical infrastructures such as raids, bridges, among others.
Speaking on the academic development programme of the fund, he said the list of scholars sponsored by TETFund for PhDs and masters was incredible, warning that if the country funds infrastructure without research and scholarships, the institutions would only be half fulfilled.
He announced that TETFund will add another 12 centres of excellence next year and allocate N1 billion to each.
“Six state universities and six polytechnics will be added to the centres of excellence next year, and 70 per cent of the funds will be for research funding,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, said the TETFund centres of excellence project is, at the first instance, a zonal tertiary education project designed to promote specialisation among participating universities within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, Agriculture and Health areas, among others.
Bogoro said the project is geared towards addressing identified national development challenges, as well as strengthening the capacities of beneficiary universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
“Within the 5-year gestation period of the TCOE Project, we await success stories and manifest achievements that will stretch the limits of our expectations.
“The R&D and innovation flame has been ignited in Nigeria, thanks to our modest efforts, but the future of this initiative and the possibility of the R&D flame developing into a raging inferno that transforms the research landscape in Nigeria rests squarely on your shoulders,” he charged the centres.