By Appolos Christian
The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has blamed lack of political will to improve funding for research and technology through the implementation of the National Policy on Research and Technology, as a bane of Nigeria’s development.
The union said successive administrations in the country have over the years paid lip services to funding of research and development, stressing that the consequences is that Nigeria has now become the world’s poverty capital.
Speaking during the ongoing Science Expo taking place in Abuja, ASURI Secretary General, Dr Theophilus Ndubuaku said Nigeria has failed to implement it science policy, especially the funding component of the policy, more than 30 years after it was first passed
He said instead, the country keeps reviewing the policy, stressing that the policy has been reviewed 13 times and is about to do be done for the 14th time.
He said, “They will continue to review it until somebody has the political will to implement that policy, especially the funding and coordination component. For a country that is supposed to be the most naturally endowed nation in the world, but by our own making, we have become the poverty capital of the world. Just because we can’t develop the political will to implement a policy that will change of fortunes.”
He explained that most Nigerians mistake the academic research by universities being funded by TETFUND as same thing with research funding.
“We know that research funding has reduced. And because there is no funding coming in, nothing new is coming out
“For instance, Look at the issue of COVID-19, as we speak, there is no serious government efforts on COVID-19 research. I can tell you that because I’m in touch with all the institutions that have medical components of research and I can tell you that they are not being carrid along.”
Ndubuaku said the union has come up with a condition of service that will improve the funding of research, but lamented that it is being frustrated by chief executive of research institutions.
He said, “We have come up with a condition of service for research institutions. Luckily the President has approved it and we have innovations that can impact research. One of them is that the budget of each institution, the monitoring and allocation of budget will have a committee where there will be members of the union. So the union will now know when they are wasting the money in buying vehicles and building structures when research is not being funded. So, there is that committee in the new condition of service for research institutions.
“There is also another component of that condition of service that provides for allocation of fund to each researcher. This is something that has never been done before in the history of the country where each researcher should have fund for his own research, personally given to him
“But there is a delay. There is a deliberate attempt to frustrate the implementation of that condition of service. As we speak, the union is on strike over the implementation of that condition of service approved by the President. So, this is a country where the President approves something and someone at the level of chief executive will refuse to implement, because there is no coordination. So, the President has approved but no one to monitor if it has been implemented. Now, the union has to fight to ensure that it is implemented. And to fight for the implementation, we have to shutdown for months. Create this Council that is chaired by the president so that research can be coordinated and fund.”