TETFund’s gear change from infrastructure to research, development
By Fatai Ibrahim
It is Jerry Goodfellow (1939 – 2018) who says: “The heights that great men and women reached were not attained by sudden flights but while their companions slept, they were toiling upward at night to achieve success and giant strides.”
Also Napoleon Hills in one of his memorable quotes also opines that: “The future leadership of any society is dependent upon men and women who are willing to go extra mile.”
The above illuminating quotes succinctly capture the visionary and pragmatic leadership of Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), as a great intellectual giant as well as an indefatigable technocrat.
The highly cerebral scholar knows and understands the importance of research and development in the promotion of academic excellence and this he has given some flavour. According to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and that is what Prof. Bogoro is promoting at the TETfund.
The organisation’s directing mind believes that research should not just be undertaken for the sake of it. He is convinced that the era of research, which gives certificates, Bachelors, Masters and PhDs to students, is over.
According to him; research should solve problems at the level of Senior Professors, while the emphasis should be on problem solving research that is synonymous with research and development. He is of the school of thought that believes that exchange of knowledge is what is needed in the country’s tertiary institutions of learning.
“Nigerians might not need to bother on specialized universities for now but rather on quality of teachers, publications, laboratories, teaching aids, conducive learning environment, ICT service facilities and competitive index.
Speaking at an interactive session with Directors of Research in the nation’s universities, Prof. Bogoro said the move to concentrate on research became necessary in view of the inability of some lecturers to write grant-winning research proposals while stressing further that leadership in his outfit will provide N10 million to each of its beneficiary institutions for capacity building and academic staff training in the area of research and proposal writing.
He has assiduously worked for the creation of Research Fund. A committee has already been set up and saddled with the responsibility to nurture it for the next two years, work with the government and give advice on the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation.
The good news is President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N5 billion for the National Research Fund in 2019.
Manuscript development and journal publications are also part of the focal point of Bogoro’s visionary leadership. He supports textbooks production by lecturers as well as the transformation of PhD thesis to text books.
It is the fund’s plan in this year to establish a centre of excellence across public universities to boost research and development. During the inauguration of Committee on Book Development, Bogoro opened up on the establishment of Academic Publishing Centres (APCs) designed for the nation’s scholars in the country’s six geo -political zones.
At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the Professor commissioned the iconic TETfund-funded Academic Publishing Centre Building. The idea of the UNILAG’s Publishing Centre, according to him came out of the challenge of publishing and reading culture in country. The new publishing centre has two main components; The Visual Section of the e-library and the book section.
“When we started the idea of supporting Master’s degree, but mainly PhDs sponsorship, both local and overseas 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 said.
The organisation’s response under the dynamic leadership of Prof. Bogoro to Federal Government efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic is also commendable. The fund has recommended the provision of modern medical stimulation equipment in six colleges of Medicine; all aimed at reversing avoidable medical tourism by the citizens of the nation, thus leading to capital flight.
It is worth to mention that the fund has deepened its intervention in the area of content component of the nation’s tertiary institutions, particularly in academic staff training, manuscript development, journals and research, which has enabled favourable ranking of some of the country’s universities within Africa.
Commendations have been pouring in torrents on the giant strides of the TETfund’s boss, but for lack of space, “we commend TETfund under the visionary and dynamic leadership of … Bogoro for funding the construction of several modern buildings in our colleges, amongst which include e-library, a formal and informal building, an ultra-modern laboratory, technical and vocational building,” Dr. Patrick Uko, outgone Provost, Akwa Ibom State College of Education has said.
“We praise … Bogoro for funding research and infrastructural developments in our tertiary institutions.” Prof. Musbau Akanji, out-gone Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna has said.
Prof. Bogoro, as you implement the next level agenda of President Buhari in all tertiary institutions in the country, hearken and take solace in the words of Henry Killer who said: “Never bend your head, hold it high and look the world straight in the eye.”
Ibrahim is alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Abuja.