By Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele,
Prof Suleiman Bogoro, Executive Secretary, TETFUND
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) is an interventionist agency of the Federal Government charged with the responsibility and mandate of supporting public tertiary educational institutions with essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, instructional materials and equipment, grants for research and publication and academic staff, training and development.
Established as Education Tax Fund (ETF) by Act No. 7 of 1993, the TETFUND administers, disburses and monitors the judicious utilization of the 2% education tax paid by all registered companies operating in Nigeria. TETFUND, under the visionary and dynamic team player and leadership of Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, has moved the goal-post and effected the paradigm shift from what it used to be to one anchored on trust, integrity through unprecedented revolutionary initiatives aimed at transforming the educational sector to conform with international global standards, where research and development is given prominence.
Under its unique “Academic Staff Training and Development“ programme, the academic based intervention areas of funds, geared towards upgrading the quality of teaching staff in Nigerian public tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) through the award of scholarship for Masters and Doctorate Degrees within and outside the country, a total of 24,385 academic staff have been trained as at March 2019 and enlarged to accommodate more funds and capture every facet of the educational sector of the nation.
Under its Conference Attendance Programme through the Conference Attendance (CA) Interventionist Programme for Academic and Non-Academic Staff of public tertiary educational institutions, TETFUND opens the opportunity to have a first-hand international and local experience and exposure to boost their capacities in various areas of endeavor, as well as interact with their peers globally.
A total of 57,564 have attended Conferences both locally and internationally as at March 2019, also surpassing previous numbers since the organization was founded. Howbeit, under the Library Development Intervention of the organization, it has made available books, periodicals, equipment and other reading resources in the libraries of public tertiary education institutions like never before, with emphasis on e-resources with disbursement above 10 billion, attracting a lot of laurels and recommendations from outside educational institutions. The National Research Fund (NRF) has also witnessed a tremendous boost and impact as a seed money of
N3 billion was set aside by the Federal Government through TETFUND to encourage academics pursuit on cutting edge research for national development in areas of power and energy, employment and wealth creation.
However, the TETFUND IBR intervention is aimed at supplying and enhancing basic academic research which has been abandoned to paucity of funds, but has now been revived. Noticeable the recent intervention has brought life back into the culture of research and development – a core mandate of the institution, to build capacities and enhance science and technology research in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
Professor Bogoro has been at the forefront of the advocacy for enhanced research and development and recently sponsored and gave award grants to 39 research proposals, having qualified for funding from the NRF Grants after the National Research Fund Screening and Monitoring Committee (NRFS & MC) of the Fund screened at about 1,846 Research Proposals submitted. Today, scholars across the country are encouraged to do research as Professor Bogoro is ever ready with his team to assist in funding and sponsorship.
According to findings by our organization, Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI), Professor Bogoro has created an enabling environment knowing full well the absence of regulatory platform has weakened research and development in our educational institutions. According to Professor Bogoro, “that the key measurement parameters for Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is anchored on Nigeria’s economic transformation blueprint, which is dependent in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), meaning that the advancement in SET is dependent on research and development.”
He further affirmed that “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 He added emphatically that “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.”
Professor Bogoro therefore reiterated that for too long, Nigeria has been paying attention to physical infrastructure, but it is now time for innovative research and a paradigm shift from the old order to the new, to make the physical structures meaningful.
CWAI states that, as part of his avowed determination for a paradigm shift, TETFUND has also made landmark and decisive disbursement on other sectors like the Academic Publishing Centres constructed under the Intervention Funds, one per university in each of the six geo-political zones of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, to boost books and manuscript production; the Academic Manuscript Development (AMD) Intervention, which enables lecturers to develop and produce their academic manuscripts into textbooks through funds made available to the institutions on annual basis. This is aimed at ensuring the production of academic books for teaching and learning in the country’s tertiary institutions.
Also worth of mention are the National Book Development Fund (BDF), Professional Association Journals (PAJ) Intervention, the Teaching Practice and the Academic Research Journals Intervention, which saw the disbursements of large amounts of funds, aimed at reviving and encouraging the publication of quality academic journals by Professional associations and the sustenance of scholarly books and research. This is, indeed, a major achievement in the annals of history of the Fund with sustainable growth plan for the future.
CWAI also gathered that TETFUND, through its current leadership, has doubled its efforts towards strengthening collaborative partnership between higher education institutions, government, industry, otherwise known as the Triple Helix model and the recent partnership with the United States Embassy, thereby synergizing towards a greater academic excellence in Nigeria, is a worthy endeavour. This collaboration is geared towards strengthening academic excellence and the existing relationship between TETFUND and the United States Embassy in Nigeria. It is indeed a novel and formidable initiative taken by Professor Bogoro to drive collaborative scholarships, research and educational cooperation as well as knowledge sharing and leveraging on each other for mutual beneficial relationships.
In view of the foregoing, TETFUND under the unique leadership of Professor Bogoro is transforming every sector of Nigeria’s education, to include infrastructure, capacity buildings, manpower development, creating decent environment for learning, research scholarships, up-to-date journals, and e-resources in all of the nation’s tertiary institutions. CWAI therefore calls on stakeholders and concerted efforts from organizations, government and the private sector to join hands with Professor Bogoro to leverage on the already developmental plans implemented; and create excellence in our ivory towers, so as to prepare Nigeria for the future of its dreams. Therefore, this initiative will lead to the development of the nation’s institutions into veritable hubs of experimentation and technological innovation needed for national development. Professor Bogoro is indeed on a mission to redeem Nigeria’s educational and intellectual image globally and put Nigeria on the world map through educational institutions and the standardization of Research and Development paradigm shift.
Professor Bogoro’s commitment to selfless service is captured in this assertion he made: “Since 2004, when I was first appointed the Executive Secretary of TETFUND, I was and still am, committed to lead TETFUND in the vision by sensitizing the whole country towards the need to strengthen Research and Development in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.”
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele is the Executive Secretary,Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI)