200 days in office: Bogoro matching words with action
By Fatai Ibrahim
It was Harvey Samuel Firestone (1868 – 1938), the late American businessman who said: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” This is exactly what Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) was and is doing during his first stint at TETfund and since his re-instatement by President MuhammaduBuhari in January 2019.
A man of action, the TETfundsupremo has left no one in doubt that he is a round peg in a round hole with the giant strides he has been taking in the tertiary funding in the last nine months, in line with the policy thrust of President MuhammaduBuhari’s administration.
As a man who knows the importance and essence of research in the development of the education sector, Prof. Bogoro has seen to the creation of Research Fund and Centre of Excellence. A committee has already been set up and saddled with the responsibility to nurture it in the next two years, work with the government and advise it on the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation (R and D) which is going to be a cross-cutting, cross-disciplinary research platform that will look at funding of research in research communities, and the tertiary institutions led by the universities.
TETfund, as the largest scholarship body is equally providing support for training of Masters and PhD levels in Nigeria and overseas and there is no rival at the moment.
According to Prof. Bogoro, “There is a relationship between universities and research institutes across the world and there will always be the benefit to the institute, if the universities can undertake research in an area they need to add value; what I call problem solving research, that is why for the first time the economic summit meeting that was held, the academia and industries were seated on the same platform that has never happened before.”
Under Bogoro’s leadership, TETfund has focused more on research, the content component; developing the libraries and getting the relevant software which students and scholars alike must be acquainted with.
“We are hoping to go for Centre of Excellence in the next five years, and for the next two years, we want to have the Centre of Excellence and if possible, multi-disciplinary laboratories mainly around STEM disciplines. We have also initiated the Research and Development (R&D) idea; institutionalizing R&D in Nigeria reflecting the inescapable relationship between the research communities led by universities and the industries which hasn’t been the case for a long time. On my re-instatement President uhammaduBuhari graciously approved N5billion, the highest amount available for research & development.
At the inauguration of ad-hoc committee on Research and Development (R&D) in March 2010, Prof. Bogoro had said innovative research and its consequent commercialization is the driver that moves and nurtures the engine of modern economic growth thus, it is an important driver of poverty alleviation. The TETfund boss is also of the belief that R&D propelled by higher education, more than anything else, has contributed to the rise and expansion of the world knowledge economy.
During the inauguration of the committee on Book Development, Bogoro opened up on the establishment of Academic Publishing Centre (APC) which is designed for the nation’s scholars in Nigeria’s six geo-political zones. He admonished the academics who were appointed into this committee to take their appointment seriously, which was strictly on merit.
Because “vision is seeing beyond the majority” in the words of Charles C. Maxwell, Prof. Bogoro has come up with the Committee on Impact Assessment (TACIA) to assess TETfund’s activities in the last 20 years. Through TACIA, the Fund will be able to review the path of its journey, review its strength, weakness, progress, challenges and windows of opportunities in order to improve. Bogoro said TETfund is ready to maintain its status as one of the most viable agencies that has become a model in Africa.
Prof Bogoro is not only passionate about his job he is a man who believes in the words of Ralph Nader: “The true function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” In line with this, Prof. Bogoro immediately after his re-instatement by President Buhari discovered that a number of TETfund scholars were stranded as a result of the fallen value of the Naira. He moved fast within weeks and months, visited Europe, America, Asia, Malaysia, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, South Africa and today, the erudite scholar has addressed about 1,000 cases of TETfund scholars.
The scholars are now appreciating TETfund for the prompt and revolutionary action in alleviating their teething problems.
“When we started the idea of supporting Master’s degree, but mainly PhD sponsorship, both overseas and local at that time, only 40 per cent of Nigerian lecturers had PhD. After about three to four years of that intervention, the percentage went up to 60 per cent and today we believe it is in the region of 70 to 80 per cent which is a significant improvement,” Bogoro stated.
After resolving some challenges faced by the scholars, TETfund has decided to send directly, money meant to each of the scholars as directed by the Board of Trustees of TETfund. Today, the TETfund scholars are celebrating that decision of paying them directly which is in line with the aphorism given to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
According to Bogoro, TETfund plans to establish Centre of Excellence across public universities from 2020 to boost research and development. As at today, up to six African countries have come to study the TETfund model for implementation.
Bogoro, as you take TETfund to the mountain top (Eldorado), treat your adversaries like the proverbial Eneke, the bird in the book, “Things Fall Apart,” when it said, “since the sons of men have learnt to shoot without missing, the birds too will learn how to fly without perching.
Ibrahim is an alumnus of Faculty of Law, University of Abuja