Researchers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) on Tuesday took to the streets in Abuja to protest the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) bill.
The National Secretary of ASURI, Theophilus Ndubuaku, said at the event that the protest was to encourage the National Assembly to keep pushing for the bill.
Mr Ndubuaku said there are about 150 research Institutions in Nigeria, yet there has been no development in the country.
Premium Times reported that President Buhari rejected the NRIC bill alongside others and gave reasons.
Mr Buhari rejected the bill because he said the requirement for five per cent of the annual allocation of 14 entities listed in section 17 of the bill to be paid into the Research and Innovation Fund is unwieldy and may be practically difficult to implement in some instances.
For example, he said, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund does not receive any federal allocation.
He said the requirement that one per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be sourced from the federal government and be paid into the Research and Innovation Fund is also practically unworkable as the GDP is an economic measure at the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a period of time. He said the GDP is not cash or revenue accruable to the federal government.
Mr Buhari also noted incorrect references to some of the entities specified in Section 17 of the Bill. For instance, the Information Technology and Development Fund should be the National Information Technology Development Fund.
According to Mr Ndubuaku, President Buhari established the NRIC in 2016, of which he is the chairman based on policy.
He said the council had met three times without any established structure like office, members and staff.
“The National Assembly magnanimously passed the bill because the technocrats understand the value of research,” he said.
He urged the lawmakers not to relent on the bill as it will create access to development in the country.
Mr Ndubuaku also lamented that Nigerians is not involved in research and innovation which he said is leading it to a failed state.
He said the institutions are already created but the major challenge facing them is the funds for research.
“You do not fund research through budget allocation on a yearly basis, there is an institutionalised funding mechanism where funds are available and accessible, such funding institutions are not available in Nigeria,” he said.
“In the 1960s, Nigeria developed a policy for science and technology which was supposed to take us to the next level as far as technology is concerned. Since then it has been reviewed 13 times, yet no action has been taken,” the secretary said.
He said in developed nations, they set up policies and start funding them but reverse is the case in Nigeria where the polices initiated and not funded.
He said the reason why Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world is because there is a gap between research and innovation.
Meanwhile, the Research and Documentation officer, ASURI, Franklin Ekeanyawu, said the lawmakers had made corrections to the defects in the bill cited by the president and sent back to him.
He said the absence of research has done grave harm to the country.
“All the insecurity, crime and evil vices are as result of the little or no attention paid to researchers,” he said
“No nation can develop or excel without innovation ” he said.