Last Monday June 6, 2022, an intellectual colossus and untarnished technocrat whose footprints on the sands of public service remain irreversible, and still counting, turned 64 years. In line with his humble disposition and style, no drum was rolled out. This astounding personality, who has served in two of our nation’s frontline parties, remains an enigma. He has not only provided inspiring moments of irrevocable commitment to hard work; his life epitomises nationalism and patriotism across various divides that define the Nigerian Sate.
Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, who is immediate past Executive Secretary of Tertiary Trust Fund (TETFund), is a study in unfathomable humility and unrivalled intellectual prowess in providing leadership. Apart from never looking back once his hand is put to the plough, this consummate intellectual of global status has left no one in doubt of his commitment to the development of his nation.
Born in Gwarangah, Bogoro local government area of Nigeria, on 6th June, 1958, the young Suleiman attended the premier Boy’s Secondary School Gindiri in the then Benue Plateau State from 1972-1976. On completion of his secondary school, he was admitted to the University of Maiduguri where he bagged his first degree, B.Sc. Agriculture, in 1981. Quest for more academic laurels would eventually earn him M.Sc. in Animal Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1988). Not satisfied with a second degree, he proceeded to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) where he completed his PhD programme in Animal Science in 1997, with composite research and bench-work equally shared between ATBU, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland and The Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
After bagging his PhD, the then fast rising academic, who had commenced his academic career at the ATBU, Bauchi, in 1984, as a pioneer Graduate Assistant, rose to become Professor of Animal Science (specialising in Biochemistry and Ruminant Nutrition) in 2003. A prolific researcher with numerous publications in international and local journals, Prof. Bogoro’s cerebral capacity has enabled him to teach, supervise and mentor scores of post-graduate students at M.Sc and PhD levels, with more than 14 of them attaining professorial status. Apart from delivering high-profile public lectures in excess of 70 in diverse areas of development, he has delivered no fewer than 9th Convocation Lectures dwelling on research thrust and funding.
Appointed as the Executive Secretary of TETFund by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, he would later be relieved of his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016. His brief absence at TETFund abruptly came to an end when he was returned to the Fund where he was later nicknamed ‘Apostle of Research and Development’. Having played crucial roles in tackling decaying infrastructure in most Nigerian tertiary institutions, the second coming of Professor Bogoro in 2019 witnessed more focus on research as a tool for national growth.
Speaking in January 2021 at the 9th Convocation of Veritas University, Bwari, Abuja, Bogoro noted: “We cannot develop as a nation if our research focus is not tailored towards solving the problems of our country. It is on this note that TETFund has commenced earnest efforts by encouraging researchers to embark on studies that are problem-solving. It is because of our lack of deploying research to solve our problems that we find it easier to get yams produced in Ghana on the streets of London than yams produced in Nigeria. We need to deploy research to add value in the preservation and storage capacity of our nation’s yams.”
Availing data to his listeners with data from various countries on the relevance of research for development prospects, the intellectual colossus explained that the creation of Research and Development Foundation would serve as a think tank for encouraging research through adequate funding to facilitate Nigeria’s industrial revolution.
Professor Bogoro did not just stumble on the relevance of research for development; it has been his studied passion and academic concentration. Before his appointment to head TETFund in 2014, he served as the pioneer Director of the NIMET-supported Agro-Meteorogical Centre, ATBU in 2004. He was the Chairman, Governing Council of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede-Owerri, Imo State, from 2005 to 2007. Impressed by his commitment of standing up for the academic excellence of the school, he was bestowed with the traditional title of ‘Ekwueme of Aboh Mbaise’ (Man of his words) in 2006, less than a year after his appointment.
Perhaps, it is due to the relevance of this diversified experiences garnered from various tertiary schools that prepared him to ensure polytechnics and other research institutions were never left behind in the struggle to enthrone research for national development. This degree of collaboration for enthroning research by Bogoro was well articulated by the Executive Secretary of National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Professor Idris Bugaje, when he praised Bogoro for his unequalled commitment to research.
Past the 64th milestone of his age, the focus of this accomplished academic has not gone beyond deploying his intellectual competence to provide leadership for human development. When he served as TETFund Executive Secretary, he realised the amazing potentials in broadening national growth. Unlike in his first coming when he concentrated in addressing the challenges of infrastructural decay that once plagued Nigeria’s tertiary schools, his second coming was focused on developing the scholarly capacity of academics, with special attention dedicated to the sponsoring of PhD courses in both local and foreign schools.
It is indubitable that his track record at TETFund set a standard for excellence as he galvanised staffers towards achieving the mandates of the Fund. As a leader whose vision is always anchored on humanity and intellectualism, this erudite scholar of global excellence was one of the shining lights in the administration of President Buhari. Impressed by his performance at the Fund, President Buhari had increased funding for research to encourage academics to embark on research. Prof Bogoro’s signature was the rallying of researchers with the private sector for collaborative efforts towards commercialisation of research efforts.
His entire career, spanning several decades, has been devoted to scholarly inquest as he was appointed consultant/team leader to several international, national, and regional projects, such as the Principal Investigator, African Centre of Excellence/World Bank on Food Security. (2012-2013); principal Investigator, Step B Food Security Centre for Excellence’; Team Leader UNESCO, Climate Change Project Proposal; Consultant/Team Leader, North-West Multi-sectoral Development Indices evaluation Project of National Bureau of Statistics/UNICEF (2007); Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Labor & Productivity on Job creation and Poverty Reduction Action Plan of Nigeria’s NEEDS/SEEDS program, Bauchi/Gombe State (2004), and Member, Presidential Committee on National Food Security and Food Policy for Nigeria. (2000).
Describing current trends as tending towards globalised knowledge, Bogoro noted that massive and qualitative human capital developments, with emphasis on technology and product development, “are factors responsible for the sustainable economic development of the more advanced nations of the world. A deliberate investment in Research and Development (R&D), remains the most potent strategy to achieve the knowledge-intensive development agenda. He argues that the nation cannot tap global knowledge and take advantage of the vast stock of global knowledge, unless we develop our research institutions that can create knowledge, absorb knowledge and communicate knowledge. He calls on universities and other tertiary schools to play the role of promoting problem-solving means towards development.
Bogoro believes in the unity of the Nigerian nation, insisting that: “Going back into human history, we know that unity has always been the focal point of every human activity. Nigerians cannot afford to be separate” adding, “We have to see that all of us are in the same boat. We must imbibe the values of universal brotherhood. Love for one another and the golden rule of treating others as we ourselves would be treated”.
Looking at the trajectory of this consummate academic in his three scores and four years, there is no doubt that considering his leadership qualities and academic prowess, he remains a true Nigerian that has served across several divides. Though not a politician in the strict sense, this excellent scholar of unblemished public service performance stands as a giant for the public good. Here is wishing him belated birthday wishes for good health in service of his countrymen and women.