TETFund: Buhari’s quest for research, academic excellence
By Fatai Ibrahim
“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” these are words from Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), one of the founding fathers of America, a statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect and a great philosopher who was President of the United States of America from 1801 to 1809.
In corroboration of the above, President Muhammadu Buhari is a leader who believes that education is a legacy that must be bequeathed to the coming generations and those yet unborn hence his approval of the sum of N5 billion for TETfund’s National Research Fund (TETfund-NRF) to boost research in tertiary institutions across the nation.
The President, in his wisdom and as a leader who attaches importance to education, approved the sum at a time virtually all nations of the world have closed their borders to business transactions, including executive orders stopping the export of live-saving medical equipment and commodities.
Appreciating the kind gesture of the President for his pro-activeness, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, said the unprecedented approval of the fund to boost research in the nation’s institutions in this year alone, was a right step in the right direction which could not have come at a better time to scale up the funding of the NRF.
The Presidential approval was initiated through the recommendation of TETFund’s Board of Trustees (BoT) and the endorsement of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, which is a further testimony that President Buhari’s bringing on board seasoned technocrats as members of the Fund’s BoT to add value to the system is a feat that is highly commendable and legendary.
The President, while also not relenting in the pursuit of excellence in the nation’s ivory towers, approved the establishment of the Fund’s centres of excellence.
The approval is not only signifies a major paradigm shift in favour of research and excellence in country’s universities but also a demonstration that the Federal Government, under the dynamic leadership of the incumbent President has decided to directly establish such centres besides the ones funded by the World Bank; the Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE).
According to the fund’s Director of Projects, Alhaji Buhari Mikailu, the focus areas of the centres, in line with contemporary practice and technologies, are mainly in science-based disciplines.
In response, those centers in Colleges of Medicine sponsored by the fund as published recently by one of the national dailies, the nation’s education minister, Malam Adamu, commended the initiatives of the Fund’s board members in providing a special research grant window towards the treatment of or development of a vaccine against Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister assured the Fund that the Federal Government will continue to support relevant research aimed at addressing national challenges and needs.
Responding to the President’s efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic through its Executive Secretary, Prof. Bogoro, the organisation made it clear that it has recommended the provision of modern medical stimulation equipment in six Colleges of Medicine aimed at reversing avoidable medical tourism by Nigerians which has led to capital flight at the detriment of the nation.
In line with the clarion call for the country to look inward for possible cure for Covid-19 pandemic, President Buhari approved the immediate funding of six medical stimulation, research and training facilities in six Colleges of Medicine through the Fund with facilities for molecular biology science laboratories with capacity for testing and diagnosis of Covid-19, Lassa fever and other related viral diseases.
The team spirit of other members of the staff of the organization supporting various reforms and revolutionary initiatives of Prof. Bogoro, is worthy of emulation by those committed to nation building.
As posited by Dr. Mike Murdock: “In every team work, it is not the role that matters but the goal to be achieved.”
In this regard, President Buhari has shown African leaders the way on research and development as in the words of foremost Pan Africanist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who once said: “When you show the people the way, they will follow.”
It is therefore suggested for organization should go the extra mile in collaborating with other African universities on research and how to curb future health challenges and other myriads of problems facing the continent of Africa.
Setting up the first continental institute of research in Africa will not be a bad idea as in the words of Cecil Walter: “Education relations make the strongest tie.”
Ibrahim writes from Abuja and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.