The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sonny Echono, says it has spent N146 billion to sponsor over 10,227 scholars under Academic Staff Training and Development Intervention Programme.
He said 1,017 of the beneficiaries were sponsored for bench work at the sum of N5 billion.
“However, upon return of the scholars to their various institutions, many were unable to share the knowledge acquired and replicate their experiences due largely to the research infrastructure deficit in their institutions,” he said.
He added that the Fund in 2020 through the Special Research Grant to address COVID-19 funded eight research projects at a total cost of N260,280,393.00 to support the Federal Government’s response.
Arc Echono stated these on Monday in Abuja during the inauguration of an ad hoc committee on the establishment of central multipurpose laboratories in select universities in the country.
He said the move was part of efforts to provide relevant infrastructure to aid research in the country.
According to the TETFund boss, it is universally accepted that innovative research and its commercialization is the driver of economic growth and prosperity in the contemporary world.
“Thus, it is imperative to make conscious efforts to not only develop our human capital but to also provide research infrastructure to support innovative R&D on a sustainable basis. It is indeed a key pre-requisite for accelerated national development and global competitiveness,” Echono said.
He said the agency was deploying billions of naira to fund research programmes and projects with a view to deepening the institutionalization of Research and Development to tackle national challenges.
“You will recall that the Fund has so far awarded a total of 727 Research Grants to researchers from public tertiary institutions at the cost of over N18 billion under the National Research Fund (NRF) to undertake applied research in various academic disciplines,” he said.
He said some of the scholars who have benefited from the NRF grants often requested that to complete the execution of the research project might require them to cross international borders to access certain facilities/equipment due to lack of requisite research facilities in their institutions.
“In some cases, these tend to affect the financial burden associated with the research projects, coupled with time expended for travelling,” Echono said.
Echono said the committee, which has former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Emeritus Professor Olufemi Bamiro, as chairperson, has one month to submit its report.
In his acceptance speech, Bamiro expressed the readiness of the team to deliver on the assigned task.
“This will surely go a long way in rejuvenating research and training in research in our nation state.
“The committee, like the assignment, is multidisciplinary in nature, with experts, and I mean really experienced experts, in the areas of food science and technology, energy, engineering, parasitology, medicine, biochemistry, nuclear physics, and architecture. I do not see any critical area of research endeavour that can escape the eagle eyes of the members,” he said.
Meanwhile other members of the committee are Professor Ekanem Braide, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, Professor Suleiman Mustapha, Professor Yusuf Saidu, Professor Nasir Isa Fagge, Professor Abubakar S. Sambo, Professor Ibrahim Katampe and Mallam Buhari Mikailu.