TETFund To Establish Multipurpose Laboratories Across Nigeria
By Jack Acheme, Abuja
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has inaugurated an ad hoc committee on the establishment of central multipurpose laboratories in select universities in Nigeria.
Inaugurating the committee on Monday in Abuja, Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono said the move was part of efforts to provide relevant infrastructure to aid research in the country.
“It is universally accepted that innovative research and its commercialisation is the driver of economic growth and prosperity in the contemporary world.
” Thus, it is imperative to make conscious efforts to not only develop our human capital but to also provide research infrastructure to support innovative R&D on a sustainable basis.
” It is indeed a key pre-requisite for accelerated national development and global competitiveness,” Echono said.
The TETFund boss said the agency is deploying billions of Naira to fund research programmes and projects to deepen the institutionalisation of Research and Development to tackle national challenges.
“You will recall that the Fund has so far awarded a total of 727 Research Grants to researchers from public tertiary institutions at the cost of over N18 billion under the National Research Fund, NRF, to undertake applied research in various academic disciplines.
The Executive Secretary said, “The agency in 2020 funded 8 research projects at the cost of N260,280,393.00 to support groundbreaking research in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic including laboratory infrastructure to support the Nigerian Government’s response.”
Echono said the move to establish the multipurpose laboratories is consequent upon a report by the Nigerian Academy of Science indicating a glaring lack of facilities/equipment to conduct studies in some sites visited and a serious deficit in essential laboratory infrastructure needed to produce viable research outcomes.
He said the fund under the “Academic Staff Training and Development Intervention Programme also sponsored over 10.227 academic staff for foreign Masters and Ph.D. programs at the cost of over N146 billion, out of which 1,017 were sponsored for bench work at the cost of over N5 billion.
“However, upon return of the scholars to their various institutions, many were unable to share the knowledge acquired and replicate their experiences due largely to the research infrastructure deficit in their institutions,” he explained.
Echono said that based on these challenges the Fund made a provision for the establishment of two central multipurpose laboratories under its 2023 Special Intervention, to be located in the Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria, prompting it to set up the ad hoc committee to work out modalities for the establishment of the facilities.
He said the global ranking of Nigerian universities can be significantly improved through more research infrastructure,
According to the TETFund boss, the Fund is also working to ensure that such laboratories are available in the six geo-political zones in the country a few years from now.
Echono listed the term of reference of the ad hoc committee as: “Make appropriate recommendations for scoping and effective establishment of the laboratories including whether the Laboratories should be Specialized Laboratories or Multipurpose Laboratories.
” Provide objective guidance on the selection of the two beneficiary institutions to host the Laboratories taking cognizance of historical contexts, accessibility, surrounding environment including presence of industries, needs of the nearby Institutions, and strategic areas of focus for maximum impact.
“Make recommendations regarding quality infrastructure in terms of the laboratory building itself and other necessary facilities and equipment.
” Identify the equipment, facilities, and infrastructure needed for each laboratory.
“Make any other recommendations that will ensure effective and efficient achievement of strategic objectives for the Establishment of the Laboratories.”
Echono said the committee, which has former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Emeritus Professor Olufemi Bamiro, as chairperson, has one month to submit its report.
In his acceptance speech, Bamiro commended Echono for setting up the committee, expressing the readiness of the team to deliver on the assigned task.
He said; “This will surely go a long way in rejuvenating research and training in research in our nation-state.
” The Committee, like the assignment, is multidisciplinary in nature, with experts, and I mean really experienced experts, in the areas of food science and technology, energy, engineering, parasitology, medicine, biochemistry, nuclear physics, and architecture. I do not see any critical area of a research endeavour that can escape the eagle eyes of the members.”
Aside Bamiro, other members of the committee are Professor Ekanem Braide, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, Professor Suleiman Mustapha, Professor Yusuf Saidu, Professor Nasir Isa Fagge, Professor Abubakar S. Sambo, Professor Ibrahim Katampe and Mallam Buhari Mikailu.