By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir (Talban Bauchi)
Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund) recently celebrated its ten years of service, having gone through many changes in its functions, duties, coverage and composition. It had existed under different names before now. Still, the amendments to the act establishing it have turned it into a Tetfund, with more coverage of tertiary education in the country.
At the Tetfund at Ten event, its Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, was introduced as the apostle of research and development. A very apt description, narrating how he has turned the tide of the impact of Tetfund from infrastructure to research. The previous administration first appointed Bogoro, and barely two years after, the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) relieved him of his duties. Not long into the PMB administration, Bogoro was again re-appointed. This is a glaring testimony of the quality of stewardship he brings to the running of Tetfund. Tetfund staff rolled out the red carpets for him and welcomed him back to their fold amidst celebrations.
At Tetfund at 10, it was disclosed that 152838 infrastructural projects had been executed across the country. Thirty thousand lecturers have also been sponsored for Masters and PhD programmes. In addition, 68000 academic and non-academic staff of tertiary institutions have also been sponsored to attend local and international conferences. Tetfund has also supported 71263 lecturers under the Teacher’s Supervision Programme. Moreover, over two million books and 152000 E-resources have been procured by Tetfund.
The apostle of research and development came to improve funds for The National Research Fund, which had started with seed money of just 3 billion naira in 2011. Bogoro saw this fund’s growth by over 50 per cent, to an unprecedented 8.5 billion naira in 2021. So far, 9 billion has been accessed by lecturers to fund their research activities. Tetfund played a significant role in Covid-19 research. Tetfund approved four mega research clusters for Covid-19 vaccines and drug research and security and dairy research. The clusters had within the range of 250 million to 450 million to fund their research activities.
As the most pushful advocate for research in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, Prof. Bogoro has achieved near-global fame among education sectors’ stakeholders. In recognition of his efforts, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, named its research centre after him. This particular university is not even a beneficiary of Tetfund’s interventions and so cannot be accused of repaying him for any interventions in their school. Speakers at this event said Bogoro had earned for himself the appellation of Senior Advocate of Research, SAR. Bogoro emphasises advancing learning through research.
True to Bogoro’s advocacy for improved research and development, the Federal Government just received a draft executive bill for establishing the National Research and Development Foundation led by Tetfund. Bogoro, who received the bill on behalf of the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, thanked the Justice Ministry for drafting its staff to the exercise. This is a direct drive in turning Nigeria into a knowledge-driven economy. At the event, Bogoro stressed that Nigeria’s economy could not be competitive if it did not institutionalise Research and Development. He said that the most competitive nations placed innovation and creativity as the lead elements that drive society.
The Chairman of the drafting committee, Prof. Yadudu, commended Prof. Bogoro for putting the committee in place and his vision for the Research and Development Foundation. He also said that the country stands to reap bountifully when the bill is passed. “This is a bill which seeks to establish a National Research and Development Foundation to institutionalise, mainstream, and commercialise research and development; promote innovation and support enterprise development for job and wealth creation, for a knowledge-driven economy. This is the key thing,” Prof. Yadudu said.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.