The Federal Government has inaugurated a 160-member standing committee of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for Research and Development (R&D) to deepen research and development in the country.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja on Thursday, urged members of the committee to put in their best to the national assignment
Adamu, who was represented by the Minister of State, Mr Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, stressed that continued investment in research and development would simulate the transformation of the country.
“Nigerians voted us into power, predicated on our being able to transform their aspirations and make them national achievements.
“It is in recognition of this direction that the Executive Secretary, TETFund, presented his vision of a research-driven nation and how to finance that ambition through the Board of Trustees (BOT).
“To a large extent, Nigeria future’s depends on you. You have been summoned for a national service that is not available to the rest of the 200 million population.
“It is a national calling for all of you,’’ Adamu said.
In his remarks, Rep. Aminu Suleiman, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, said the work of the committee would open a window of opportunities for tackling the myriad challenges facing the country.
Suleiman, who was represented by Rep. Ikenna Elezieanya, a member of the House committee, bemoaned the perceptible apathy of Nigeria towards research.
He said that many developed countries invested a lot of resources in research and development initiatives, adding that the investments had boosted their economies.
“The committee will not only lead to a new way of government doing business, through the transfer of knowledge but also open a new window of opportunities to tackle the nation’s challenges.
“Research is the gateway of innovation.
“It is said that while countries like USA and Korea have been investing in research and development, Nigeria seems to show less concern on the issue,’’ he said.
Suleiman implored the committee to take good advantage of their assignment to solve Nigeria’s problems for the betterment of the country.
The TETFund Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, urged the Federal Government to increase its annual funding for research and development (R&D) initiatives to one billion U.S. dollars every year.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the recent increase of the research grant from N5 billion to N7.5 billion, Bogoro stressed that massive investments in research and development schemes would provoke the nation’s development.
He, however, called for the promulgation of a law that would bring into full force a National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF).
“To galvanise our vision towards making R&D the ace and game-changer in our national development agenda, the need for an appropriate law to support the establishment of the National Research and Development Foundation cannot be overstated.
“We need a robust institutional framework and arrangement for the NRDF.
“I am recommending a minimum annual budgetary threshold of $1 billion as the funding portfolio for this Foundation.
“When we consider the inevitable benefits of R&D and the socio-economic challenges facing Nigeria, this amount begins to look like a drop of water in the ocean, particularly for a population of 200 million people in 2020. And the population is projected to become double in 10 years for now,’’ he said.
Bogoro, however, said that the TETFund’s R&D standing committee was expected to come up with its own recommendation on a funding requirement that would be suitable for efficient research activities.
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Prof. Njidda Gadzama, said that the project would transform the socio-economic sector by ensuring the robust promotion of cutting-edge innovations.
“We promise to carry out our assignment with commitment and diligence,’’ he said.
The committee, whose members are drawn from the academia as well as the public and private sectors, has Mansur Ahmed, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), as one of its three vice-presidents.