The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Professor Elias Suleiman Bogoro, within few months of resumption at his duty post after an interval, has inaugurated three committees, which are critical to raising the standard of scholarship and research in Nigeria’s higher institutions of learning towards the overall socio-economic development of the nation. UJI ABDULLAHI ILIYASU reports that Nigeria nearly missed the services of this true patriot.
Professor Bogoro has so far inaugurated three committees which have been mandated to solve crucial issues in the Nigerian higher institutions of learning. These issues border on research and development, book publishing and impact assessment of TETFund interventions in the last 20 years in the nation’s tertiary beneficiary institutions.
Research and Development
The first was the inauguration of ad-hoc committee on Research and Development (R&D) in March.
During the inauguration of committee, Bogoro reassured that researchers in Nigerian tertiary institutions would have no cause to remain poor.
He said innovative research and its consequent commercialisation is the driver that moves and nurtures the engine of modern economic growth, thus it is an important driver of poverty alleviation.
“The key measurement parameters for Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the anchor for Nigeria’s economic transformation blueprint is dependent on Science, Engineering and Technology (SET). The advancement in SET is dependent on R&D.
“Innovative research and its consequent commercialisation is the driver that moves and nurtures the engine of modern economic growth, thus it is an important driver of poverty alleviation.
“There is ample evidence to show that R&D propelled by higher education, more than anything else, has contributed to the rise and expansion of the world knowledge economy.” Bogoro said.
He further said that the power of commercialisation of R&D results has been recognised by both developed and developing economies and that the nature and demands of modern economy is the fundament stimulus for the university-industry relationships, and stressed that investment in research and development as well as human capital development is key to economic advancement of any nation.
He stated that in developed countries, industries look up to universities as potential innovators in the development and commercialisation of products, which results in funding the cash-starved universities and university researchers having access to most modern technology and management systems in industries. He added that higher education institutions are globally positioned to be the bridge between the productive society and knowledge growth.
Bogoro lamented that the level of research in Nigeria is remarkably low.
“In spite of the fact that the role of R&D in national development, including leveraging the quality of research and academic programmes is well known, the level of research and development infrastructure and productivity in Nigeria remains unacceptably low (0.02%).”
Bogoro averred that in spite of the fact that research and development is central to a country’s development, in Nigeria, there is absence of a national platform for the regulation and strengthening of research and development.
“It is in this vein that TETFund, propelled by my vision, continues to advocate the establishment by law, of a national R&D Foundation that will ensure a coordinated national framework for the sustenance and implementation of R&D.
“Such a foundation, when established, shall promote an effective interface between universities, government and private sector, especially the industrial subsector of the economy.
“Since 2004, when I was appointed the Executive Secretary of TETFund, I was and still am committed to lead TETFund in this vision by sensitising the whole country towards the need to strengthen R&D in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“The passion is evidenced by the numerous papers I have presented across the country.”
He therefore, said for long, they had been paying attention to physical infrastructure but the time for innovative researches to make the physical structures meaningful had come.
The committee has Professor Placid Njoku, an erudite scholar and one of Africa’s most prominent intellectuals and academics and current president of Nigerian Institute of Animal Science as chairman; Ibrahim Katampe, a professor of Chemistry and director for Innovative and Technology Incubation in the Center for Excellence in Emerging Technologies (CEET), Central State University, USA, as vice chairman. While Mr Temitope Toogun, head of human capital commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) would serve as member.
All three have promised to take TETFund R&D assignment with all seriousness for the good of Nigeria.
Committee on Book Development
During the inauguration of the Committee on Book Development, Bogoro poured out his heart on the establishment of Academic Publishing Centres (APC) designed for the nation’s scholars in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
At the inauguration, journalists and other guests outside of the university community were virtually reduced to the illiterate in the company of highly erudite academics drawn from various locations in the country’ higher schools and their academic unions.
During each of these occasions, Bogoro spoke and looked as if he had found the formula for the much needed industrial revolution for the country. His concern for Nigeria’s slow pace of social economic development was written all over his face. His speeches poured forth from his heart as if Nigeria’s survival depends on how effectively he runs the Fund. Bogoro is one public officeholder who feels for Nigeria as a responsible man would feel for the problems of his immediate family.
The TETFund boss called on the academics who were appointed to the technical group to take their appointment seriously as their appointments, he said, were based purely on merit, and would last for only two years but subject to renewal upon satisfactory performance.
Two renowned academics, Professor Charles Awo and Professor Umar Pate were to serve as chairman and vice chairman of TAG respectively.
Bogoro said Nigeria had realised that for a country to develop in all aspects of its life, it needs to subscribe to a knowledge-driven economy, and gave the examples of Brazil and Malaysia, which were once at the same level of development with Nigeria, but have now gone far because of their early recognition of the important role knowledge plays in a nation’s development.
The TETFund boss said it was embarrassing to see sub-standard books published by academics in the country. He was determined to stop the menace.
“We are all aware that there is critical paucity of indigenously produced tertiary level textbooks and related academic publications in the nation’s tertiary education institutions. It is equally worrisome that the quality of most academic publications in our country leaves much to be desired.
“To combat this trend head-on, the Book Development Fund intervention was deliberated created by the Fund with the aim of restoring the culture of research and high quality academic publishing within the higher education subsector.
“It is expected that nurturing the culture of quality authorship and the production of indigenous books will not only ensure the availability of relevant books in diverse subject areas that take cognisance of our local environment and sensitivities, it would also safeguard national pride.
“While it is true that foreign books are helpful, indigenous book industry is needed to provide opportunities for the nation’s writers, thinkers and artists.
“The gross insufficiency of standard tertiary level literature in our libraries and bookshops further underscore the urgent need to come up with targeted strategies to encourage production of textbooks for our tertiary institutions,” Bogoro said.
He assured the group that to ensure adequate production of indigenous academic textbooks, and in line with the mandate of the Fund, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Fund had approved N2bn for Book Development Fund, even as additional seed of N2.9bn had been added to the initial grant to make it N4.9bn, out of which N2.6bn had been utilised for the intended purpose.
He stressed that the book development fund will intervene in three areas namely, development and publication of academic books and the conversion of theses into books; support for professional association journals, and the establishment and sustainability of Academic Publishing Centres (APC).
He said APC would be constructed in at least one university in the six geopolitical regions and the FCT. He said University of Calabar will represent the South-south, FUT Minna, for Northcentral, UniMaid for Northeast, UDUS for Northwest, Unizik for Southeast and uniLag for Southwest, while Uniabuja will serve the FCT.
The TAG’s terms of reference include: harvesting doctorate theses and master’s dissertations from across beneficiary institutions for conversion into books; screen proposals on manuscripts and theses/dissertations for development into academic textbooks; recommend reviewers for screened manuscripts and theses/dissertations, among others.
Committee on impact assessment (TACIA)
Last week, Professor Bogoro also inaugurated the Technical Advisory Committee on Impact Assessment (TACIA) of TETFund in Abuja. The committee which consists of renowned academics selected from various tertiary institutions and technocrats in the country was charged with the mandate to assess the impact of the Fund based on its interventions and the progress made by the beneficiary institutions in 20 years (1999-2019).
Terms of reference of TACIA
To ensure the committee carries out its assignment without distractions, it was given a terms of reference which include carrying out impact assessment of TETFund interventions from 1999 to 2019; determination of the level of implementation, mandates and effectiveness of the fund; to determine challenges, achievements and weaknesses recorded and observed in the course of the implementation of the existing projects, programmes and intervention lines of the Fund; to improve future direction of the fund within the TETFund statutory mandate as encapsulated in its establishment Act.
Other terms include collating and analysing selected speeches of the past and present Executive Secretaries of TETFund; annual/periodic publications reports and communications arising from annual events such as TETFund/FIRS interactive forum; strategic plan documents; annual interventions and internal working budgets, and lastly to examine any other matter which in the opinion of the committee, is relevant to the impact assessment of TETFund interventions and to submit the report on or before Friday November 29, 2019.
Significance of the impact Assessment
In his speech, Professor Bogoro explained why it is important for the Fund to assess its activities within the last 20 years.
“Through the assessment the fund would be able to review the path of its journey so that it would be able to reveal strengths, weaknesses, progresses, challenges and windows of opportunities in order to improve.
“TETFund is ready to maintain its status as one of the most visible, impactful and relevant intervention agencies that has become a model in Africa.
“The TACIA team has been carefully picked to reflect some of the best experts in development work, research and scholarship.”
In his closing remarks, Bogoro said that any country that did not value its intellectuals would value nothing.