Despite a pledge in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari to increase investment in research, science and technology, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) says Nigeria invests only 0.02 percent of its revenue on the sector.
The Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Suleiman Bogoro, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the Ad-hoc Commitee on Research and Development set up by the Fund with the aim to deepen its research and development mandate.
Mr Bogoro described the allocation to the sector as “very dismal and unacceptably low.”
”In most of the developed world, it is three per cent to five per cent. Some nearly 10 percent in more serious, technologically-driven economies of the world. And we are at 0.02 per cent in the percentage committed to research and development. It’s one of the very lowest in the world, very embarrassingly too,” he said.
Mr Bogoro said investment in research and development and human capital is central to economic success.
He said his agency will continue to advocate the establishment by law of a National Research and Development Foundation to ensure a coordinated national framework for the sustenance and implementation of Research and Development.
”We will work with the 9th Assembly to repackage, reposition and reconstruct the bill, ” he said.
He said by virtue of the number of universities in Nigeria, more research programmes are bound to be carried out in the universities than in research institutes.
According to him, there is ample evidence to show that research and development propelled by higher education, more than anything else, has contributed to the rise and expansion of the world knowledge economy.
“With the accelerated growth of a new global economy and the urgent focus on socio-economic issues, there is a need for a national recalibration and re-sensitisation of operations and policies targeted at a sustainable innovative research and development operations,” he said .
“It is in in this vein that TETFund, propelled by my vision, continues to advocate the establishment by law of a National Research and Development Foundation that will ensure a coordinated national framework for the sustenance and implementation of Research and development.”
Mr Bogoro said the foundation would “promote an effective interface between universities, government and the private sector especially the industrial subsector of the economy.”
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, Human Capital, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Tope Toguun, said “the proposed National Research and Innovation Bill is defective because it does not support university research but appears more focused on non-university-affiliated research institutes.”
He said by virtue of the number of universities in the country, more research programmes are bound to be carried out in the universities than in research institutes.
Mr. Toguun said the culture of university researchers not striving for patents or product development owes to the lack of a national innovation system in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the President of Nigerian Institute of Animal Science, Placid Njoku, said Nigeria has not given research as much attention as it requires.
Mr Njoku, who is also the co- chairman of the committee, said that judging from what TETfund and the other coordinating institutions had initiated; there is great hope of moving forward in the research and development territory.
He said there is a need to incorporate research and development into Nigerian universities in order to make them able to compete with other universities across the world.
Premium Times reported Mr Bogoro saying most Nigerian professors are not capable of getting global grants for research because of poor research proposals.
Statistics indicated there are about 8000 professors in Nigeria. Mr Bogoro said he was worried that many of them cannot write quality research proposals.
TETfund was established to administer, manage and monitor Federal and State tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It is also tasked with disbursing the two percent education tax to those institutions.
It was established in 2011 by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act. TETfund scheme was formed as a product of the Education Tax Act of 1993.