Research experts in Nigeria under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), on Friday took to the streets in Abuja, protesting government’s lack of funding of research institutes.
They therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for the immediate review of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Acts 2011.
Such review, according to them, would extend the scope of distribution of funds to research institutes and colleges in order to avert economic collapse of the country.
The Vice President of ASURI, Nnamdi Onunka, and General Secretary, Theophilus Ndubuaku, said the protest was intended to call the attention of the government to the urgent need for improved funding of research institutes and colleges of agriculture and forestry in the country.
Mr. Onunka said, “On the basis of the change mantra of the present administration, there has been high expectations that the government will pump money into research, even if it means borrowing money from any willing lender, but the 2016 budget proposal revealed that the expectations may be unfounded after all.”
He stated that while ASURI acknowledged that technologies are generated in Nigerian universities through research, the union considered it preposterous that TETFUND does not extend research funding to Nigeria research institutions.
They said more technologies are generated in research institutes.
Mr. Onunka lamented that most of the technologies generated in research institutes are largely funded by researchers with their personal income.
“If they do not conduct research, publish and sponsor their training for higher degrees (Msc and PhD), they will stagnate and perish,” he said.
Mr. Ndubuaku commended the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for its role in the establishment of Education Trust Fund, but however, claimed that it was embarrassing as a major stakeholder in nation building to play down the complimentary roles of other tertiary institutions in the education sector.
“We implore President Buhari, members of the National Assembly, wealthy Nigerians and vibrant Nigerian press to do what is needful to put Nigeria to work by paying inevitable attention to research institutes and their colleges.
“Given that the determination of most research projects in the universities are individual interests and not based on institutional mandate, it can only be described as a crazy policy for a country with such abundant natural resources and large population to concentrate almost all available research and extension fund to universities and none for research institutes.
“This is the bane of Nigeria’s technological development.
“All lovers of Nigeria should support the immediate review of the TETFUND Acts to extend the scope of distribution of the overflowing fund.
“The government should secure the political will to confront any opposition and do what is fair, just and exigent regarding research funding which is a sine qua non to averting the economic collapse of Nigeria,” Mr. Onunka added.