By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says it has commenced financial intervention into Research and Development (R&D) activities in the Nigerian defense and security sub-sector.
Executive Secretary of the Fund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro made this known while declaring open a four-day TETFund R&D Standing Committee meeting on Monday in Abuja.
He said the move would ensure that Nigerian armed forces have the capacity to produce adequate weapons and other equipment that can be deployed in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges.
The TETFund boss said the agency’s efforts in deepening R&D in the country has also yielded results in the area of supporting institutions and researchers to develop coronavirus vaccine and production of other items to battle the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
His words: “Mr. President last year told the Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to instruct TETFund to support the Federal Government initiatives of responding to the COVID-19 threat through ground-breaking research for Phyto-medical drugs, prophylactics, PPE and eventually vaccines.
“I am pleased to inform you that TETFund has gone far in implementing the President’s directives and soon the results will be announced.
“Similarly, TETFund has also commenced funding of Defence and Security R&D towards responding to the unfortunate insecurity challenges and insurgency in the country, towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in locally produced
technology for our armed forces and other security agencies.”
Prof. Bogoro, who expressed delight over the performance of the 165-member TETFund R&D Standing Committee, which was inaugurated in September last year, said the various reports submitted by the body shows that the triple helix model, which brings academia and industry on the same platform holds the key to a brighter future for Nigeria.
While calling for support on the proposed R&D National Foundation to make Nigeria more competitive at the international level as well as ensuring a knowledge-based economy, Prof. Bogoro said the meeting was aimed at charting a way forward on reports by various sub-committees on their resource visits to states in the country.
He said : “The purpose of this meeting, as it were, are the
validation and adoption of reports from the 13 Thematic Groups; and the verification and endorsement of the National R&D Foundation (NRDF) Establishment Framework.
” In the course of deliberations at this four-day meeting, I have no doubt that, with the calibre of the membership of this Committee as I have already mentioned, the sky
will no longer be the limit, but the starting point, in terms of what we can collectively achieve.
“There is no gainsaying my passion for research and innovation is anchored on my abiding conviction that the technological and socio-economic advancement of Nigeria would continue to be as elusive as a mirage, as long as we continue to pay lip service to R&D,” he said.
Speaking further, the TETFund’s Executive Secretary, expressed sadness that four members of the Committee passed away in recent months, assuring the families that they won’t be forgotten because they died in service of the nation.
He listed the deceased members to include Prof. Emmanuell. Ezugwu, Prof. Femi Odekunle, Prof. Habu Galadima and Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe.
On his part, the Chairman of the Committee, emeritus Professor Njidda Gadzama, said the body was able to come up with an action plan that would see the establishment of the R & D Foundation.
He posited that the visits of the 13 thematic groups to 390 strategic institutions, revealed that Nigeria has all what it takes to compete favourably with other countries in the area of innovation and scientific development.
Also speaking, one of the Vice Chairmen of the TETFund R&D Standing Committee, Dr Mansur Ahmed, said Nigeria needs to leverage on R&D to usher in desired development.
Mansur, who is the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, lamented that while other countries that have their activities driven by research and scientific development have continued to produce COVID-19 vaccines, Africa is far behind because of poor R&D.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Laoye Jaiyeola, who replaced Odekunle as one of the Vice Chairmen, said R&D has the capacity to create more jobs in the country as well as add value to the nation’s agriculture sector.
He commended Prof. Bogoro for his vision on deepening research in the country as well as bringing the private sector, the industry and academia together to ensure effective utilisation of research output churn out by relevant institutions.
Earlier, the TETFund’s Director, R&D and Centre of Excellence, Salihu Girei, commended the 13 thematic groups ( sub committees) for their input and dedication to the assignment.
While lavishing praises on Bogoro for the initiative, Girei said the teams travelled across the country to identify R&D infrastructures, saying that investment in content is key for institutions to compete favourably in any part of the world.