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Nigerian researchers protest over inadequate funding, demand review of TETFUND Act

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Research experts in Nigeria under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions on Friday took to the streets in Abuja, ventilating their grievances over government’s lack of funding of the nation’s research institutes.

They therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for the immediate review of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Acts 2011.

Such review, according to them, would extend the scope of distribution of funds to Research Institutes and Colleges in order to avert economic collapse of the country.

The Vice President of ASURI, Dr. Nnamdi Onunka, and its General Secretary, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku, who led the protest at the popular Unity Fountain Square in Abuja, said that the protest was intended to call the attention of the government on the urgent need for improved funding of Research Institutes and Colleges of Agriculture and forestry in the country.

Onunka said, “On the basis of the change mantra of the present administration, there have been high expectations that the government will pump money into research, even if it means borrowing money from any willing lender, but the 2016 budget proposal revealed that the expectations may be unfounded after all.”

He stated that while ASURI acknowledged that technologies are generated in Nigerian Universities through research, the union considered it preposterous that TETFUND does not extend research funding to Nigeria research institutions, even when it was not debatable that more technologies are generated in research institutes. 

Onunka lamented that most of the technologies generated in research institutes are largely funded by researchers with their personal, adding, “If they do not conduct research, publish and sponsor their training for higher degrees (M.Sc. and Ph.D.), they will stagnate and perish.” 

Ndubuaku commended the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for its role in the establishment of Education Trust Fund, but however, claimed that it was embarrassing as a major stakeholder in nation building to play down the complimentary roles of other tertiary institutions in the educational sector.

“We implore President Buhari, members of the National Assembly, wealthy Nigerians and vibrant Nigerian press to do what is needful to put Nigeria to work by paying inevitable attention to research institutes and their colleges.

“Given that the determination of most research projects in the universities are individual interests and not based on institutional mandate, it can only be described as a crazy policy for a country with such abundant natural resources and large population to concentrate almost all available research and extension fund to universities and none for research institutes. 

“This is the bane of Nigeria’s technological development.

“All lovers of Nigeria should support the immediate review of the TETFUND Acts to extend the scope of distribution of the overflowing fund.

“The government should secure the political will to confront any opposition and do what is fair, just and exigent regarding research funding which is a sine qua non to averting the economic collapse of Nigeria.”

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