By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says it has provided research intervention of between N250 to N300 million which has seen the setting up of large numbers of molecular labs established in the country.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja while receiving a contingent of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, Senior Executive Course 43, 2021.
He said the intervention that saw the establishment of a research grant was made possible following instruction from President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We discovered that those facilities are helpful for both research and clinical purposes,” he said, adding that the facilities will help sustain medical research in the country.
Speaking further, Bogoro said approvals for research grants will be doubled in 2021, from over 128 approvals made in 2020.
He said the approvals will be announced as soon the Board of Trustees gives its nod, adding that qualified institutions will draw a maximum of N50 million research grants from the N7.5 billion National Research Fund, NRF.
The TETFund boss said in the 2021 budget, which is awaiting approval, the agency will fund the establishment of more molecular labs and research on gene sequencing and phytogenic medicine, as well as vaccine research and production, as a key area of unraveling the lethal covid-19 pandemic.
He also disclosed that funds were made available to some medical research institutes and colleges for the purpose of research.
Bogoro also noted that 90 percent of lecturers in Nigerian universities currently have PhDs, stating that 9 years ago, only 40 percent of university lecturers in the country had PhDs, and by 2015, over 60 per cent acquired PhDs.
He said more than 80 per cent of libraries in public tertiary institutions are TETFund-provided libraries.
He commended Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi for its ingenuity in formulating a system of tracking cattles that have been rustled; as well as Redeemers University for its advanced research on gene sequencing; and Covenant University for being ranked among the best universities in the world.
While speaking on NIPS, Bogoro said since the institute was carefully constituted in 1979, it has remained so with representation from the military, various ministries, and others, who are working on behalf of the country with a high sense of responsibility.
He added that some of the most cerebral academics and administrators in other sectors have served in NIPS, either at the directorate cadre or otherwise.
On the TETFund’s impact, he said one of the priority areas of the fund’s intervention was the academic staff development, adding that human capital development is at the center of the fund’s interventions.
While noting that Nigeria should have been happier after the announcement that it’s economy is the number one economy, for the un-impactful nature of its GDP growth, there is no way the majority of its population can be happy.
He said a number of Asian and European countries that were nowhere near Nigeria at independence have leapfrogged and left Nigeria very far behind because of its level of human capital development.
He added that although Singapore shares similarities with Nigeria as a multiethnic nation, it has risen far and above its competitors because of its investment in human capital.
“At a point Nigerian universities were reduced to politics where everyone wanted to be a professor and every professor wanted to be a Vice Chancellor, and were not concerned about research,” he said.
On inclusive education, he decried the elites’ neglect of public institutions.
“Where education excludes any segment of the society, we are being unfair to that segment of our population. For some of us, at our age, who are privileged and control a number of things, we belonged to a segment of society that got education free of charge.
“A situation where public servants who benefited from the free education programme of the government now send their children to private schools abroad is unacceptable,” he said.
He urged NIPS and statutorily non-beneficiary institutions to use a window of partnership with beneficiary institutions and apply for research grants through them.
The TETFund boss added that the law only allows the fund to provide funds directly to university, polytechnics and colleges of education.
He said TETFund can however indirectly provide assistance to other institutions through a partnership with a beneficiary institution, which can make a case for the partnering institution.
Earlier, the Acting Director-General of NIPS, Brig. Gen. Chukwuemeka Udaya, said the institute, which is over 43 years old, has carefully served every government.
Udaya disclosed the issue for study in 2021 is getting things done, adding that this year, seven groups are visiting various institutions including TETFund which has been active in getting things done.
He further disclosed that the essence of visiting was to find out, deepen and further understand how TETFund has been able to get things done.