The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, has charged universities and research institutions to place much emphasis on problem-solving research for the economic and scientific development of the nation and the African Continent at large.
He described the research as the best way to actualise the radical development of the nation.
Bagoro, who called for more investment in research in the country’s universities, said no country can develop or make headway in innovation without adequate investment and exploration in research.
The TETfund boss added further that the federal government agency had signed Memoranda of Understanding with foreign universities to boost Nigerian ivory towers’ statues in global reckoning.
Bogoro made the statement at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), on Saturday, while delivering a lecture to mark the 12th founder’s anniversary and 9th convocation ceremonies of the private university.
In his lecture entitled: “University As Catalyst for Regional Economic Development”, Bogoro also advised the university administrators to place a high premium on research.
According to him, “Endowment, research foundations are the DNA of ivory towers over time. But sadly in our country, we are treating universities as if they are political enclaves, rather than enclaves or platforms for deepening knowledge, creating knowledge and innovation, which is beyond average; that is why universities are called the ivory towers.
“Unfortunately, we have gone in the wrong direction for quite a while. Sometimes, you see square pegs not being placed in square holes, even within the university system and these are areas that bother us.
” If you do not have somebody that believes, promotes, encourages and supports problems solving research presiding over the university, then that university is destroyed. I just hope we are able to change this for our nation to grow”.
Bogoro said TETfund has been striving hard to make Nigerian universities gain recognition globally, by signing MoUs with regards to using the platforms to catalyse regional economic development.
“As part of the new paradigm at TETfund, we are committed to the internationalization of our tertiary institutions, especially our universities. We are conversant with the ranking indices, metrics and parameters of universities globally.
“We are equally aware of the present status and positions of our universities on the parametric tables of global ranking of universities. TETfund under my leadership is committed to ensuring improvement and we are indeed changing the narratives in our universities.
“A case study is the new ranking status of University of Lagos and University of Ibadan globally. The improvement has been linked to the new R&D driving vigour of TETfund and ongoing innovative bold actions especially the prioritization of content development that are disrupting the ugly status quo”.
Speaking further, the TETFUND boss said the agency in May 2020, secured a 25% tuition discount for Nigerian sponsored TETFUNDs’ scholars to undergo PhD degrees at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Mayland USA.
“This historic MoU was signed at the peak of the first wave of Covid-19. The MoU was significant because both the World Education Service (WES) and Test of English Language requirements for TETfund’s scholars studying at MSU under this agreement were waived”.
In his submission, the founder of ABUAD, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), said there is a need for the law establishing TETFUND to be reworked to allow for private universities to benefit from funding from the agency.
Babalola was also of the opinion that universities that are above 30 years shouldn’t be given funding by TETFUND for infrastructure development, clarifying that such monies were being allegedly expended on frivolities.
“Instead of giving any well established universities monies to build guest houses, they should be given funds for research and innovation.”
Bogoro had on several occasions reiterated the mantra of “Paradigm Shift” at TETFund, which has been divergently characterised as an episodic mantra, a program, or even an ideology.
Speaking at a function recently in Abuja, the executive secretary said “For me, it is simply a characterisation of the compelling new direction that redefines the appropriate way forward for TETFund, being the largest non-appropriation funding window for public (Federal and State-owned) Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“Upon my reinstatement as Executive Secretary in January 2019, I took off from where I stopped in 2016. Precisely, I made a case to the TETFund BoT for the need to emulate more developed economies and technologies of the world by making Universities, Polytechnics, but especially Universities, to take their rightful place as leaders of Research, which is the instrumentation required to install and centralize knowledge as the cutting-edge factor in Nigeria’s 21’t Century Knowledge Economy.
“That led to my espousing and aggressively pursuing the Paradigm Shift. Mercifully the TETFund Board of Trustees (BOT), the Hon. Minister of Education and to my joy, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, himself, have all endorsed this initiative in the National interest.”
He noted that TETFund must henceforth emphasize its funding and intention priorities to fall in line with global standards, best practices and even more importantly, national priorities while saying our universities must refocus to ensure that their research leads to problem-solving outcomes, and not just for journal publications, library archiving and promotion to the next rank.
“That while the Post-Colonial priority of Nigerian Universities prioritized the production of manpower to replace colonial bureaucrats, they must now toe the line of the largest and most competitive economies, by emphasizing the application of knowledge through research to problems of the economy, technology and nation, including good governance at all levels in our country,” he said.
The lecture, which was chaired by Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former Minister of Education, and the Pro-Chancellor of ABUAD, was attended by the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede; Director, Audit, JAMB, Mr Patrick Obilor; Director Legal Services, Dr Abdul Wahab Oyedokun, and the Director-General, Services, Mall. Garba Koko.