A nation’s capacity to develop is anchored on its abilities to resolve some of its many challenges. Incessant resort to external forces for national development has never worked for modern states. Countries have their own peculiarities, but they are at the same time blessed with natural endowments to confront forces that militate them.
A country that is stuck in the sludge of underdevelopment can only advance when it deploys the economic advantages it has over others. Nigeria’s vast human resources is yet to translate into an abundant prosperity for her over 200 million citizens. Over 60 years after attaining political freedom, Nigeria has remained in the backwaters of growth, with over 70 percent of her citizens trapped in the hole of excruciating poverty.
Our nation’s failure to develop its resources is tied to its incapability to engage modern research to solve modern problems. Arising from long years of military interregnum that is fraught with easy resort to cheap products from other countries, Nigeria has become an oasis of perpetually forlorn hope amidst vast potentials.
When we fail to encourage synergy between government and development partners, the road to development may be long and most times tortuous, if not impossible. Nations that relegate development through abandoning research institutions are bound to fail.
Nigeria’s journey to joining the comity of developed nations has not been devoid of forces inimical to its growth. Apart from the need to engage development partners, the commitment of government is key to realising growth imperatives. That explains why the Ajaokuta steel project, after spending billions of dollars on it, is yet to commence full operations. The dearth of infrastructure and non-engagement of critical stakeholders for development visions remain recurring hitches in Nigeria.
Research remains the bedrock of emancipating our nation out of its current dilemma of stalled development. While our country may be committed to rising above self-inflicted chains of underdevelopment, the commitment of individuals and groups in frustrating the nation’s journey has frustrated our journey to the shores of development.
It is pathetic that Nigeria still imports toothpicks, pencils, chalks, inks, papers, among others. Despite our limitless potential to grow tomatoes, Nigeria still spends billions of naira yearly to import tomato paste as our local variety has not been improved upon for economic viability. The absence of research in adding value to our agricultural produce has not helped our situation.
Our failure to refine crude oil has led to the importation of chemical products worth N4.7 trillion in the last four years. We run a rental economy whose survival depends on outside forces, with our teeming youths still roaming the streets after spending many years in schools with no hope of employment. Little wonder our despair for improved conditions have left us hopeless and unhappy.
It’s a public secret that though our nation is grappling with the task of developing the power sector, some unpatriotic Nigerians still own shares in companies in China and other Asian countries engaged in the production of power generators. Our failure in rising above the depressing level of our stifled growth is more in us than outside of us. In our tragedies, few groups benefit in advancing their interests.
What has led to our present dilemma is tied to our lack of love for Nigeria. When leaders are not in love with their country; they either simply turn such a nation into a farmhouse where they harvest its vast natural resources to foreign lands or enslave the people for total subjugation.
That explains why some top government officials never bothered to harvest the farmhouse called Nigeria to buy jewelleries worth N14.4 billion, with yet another whopping sum of $80 million for houses. That explains why some politicians and military rednecks see their appointments as an invitation to help themselves fleece the national treasury. The story of some Nigerian leaders in the corridor of power is a story of endless daylight robbery that has left our nation without hope.
Based on the fact that committed leaders are few in the corridors of power, the vision of galvanising national awakening for growth has become inebriated. The absence of committed leadership and institutional framework to drive development objectives can only turn out to be a fluke. As Nigeria battles forces of insecurity and setting up strong institutions to regulate national affairs, enthroning new orientation to replace outdated ethos has become vital.
There is no doubt that realising our nation’s development vision cannot be attained without closing the gulf of synergies between industry and academia. In a situation where both are not working in harmony; the nation risks remaining in the backwaters of growth. That has been our problem.
It is in cognisance of this fact in evolving new templates for confronting national challenges that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), after salvaging the infrastructural decay in most of our nation’s tertiary institutions, is presently engaged in seeking to institutionalize the Research and Development Foundation (RDF) to solve our nation’s problems.
Harping on the need for the RDF as an indispensable platform in advancing and sustaining the nation’s Knowledge Economy, the executive secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, encapsulated the relevance of research for development when he inaugurated the Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC) of the Fund in September 2020.
According to the TETFund boss: “For too long, there has been a palpable and worrisome disconnect between the academia and industry, such that researches in our tertiary institutions were merely a means to climbing the academic ladder, and mostly for promotions, rather than problem solving for the good of our nation.
“For industry, it was more convenient to shop for innovations and the results of research findings in clime outside the shores of Nigeria since the academia have developed thick walls and create artificial valleys that prevent the industry from leveraging Research outputs in our Tertiary institutions”.
Identifying the need for collaboration among critical stakeholders in sustaining Nigeria’s knowledge Economy, Bogoro declared that collaboration between the academic and industrialists remains the key to providing relevant research in resolving our nation’s problems.
Speaking on the need for research while delivering the Ninth Convocation Lecture of Veritas University, Abuja, in January 2021, the consummate scholar, who was re-appointed as executive secretary of the TETFund in 2019 by President Muhamamdu Buhari, 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”.
Since government alone cannot bear the burden of providing funds for research, TETFund, according to the executive secretary, is collaborating with industrialists of repute, including public and private universities, to work towards providing a platform for critical stakeholders to develop the country. It is expected that engaging industrialists and getting governments to increase research funding, as the Buhari-led administration is presently doing, is capable of providing a solid background in institutionalizing the relevance of research for development.
Since commencing efforts at rallying stakeholders to institutionalise R&D Foundation, TETFund has been engaged in a silent movie that is aimed at broadening the frontiers for development. In setting out to achieve an effective platform towards the promotion of this vision, the TETFund boss has broadened and brightened the prospects for national development.
As Prof Bogoro, who has become Nigeria’s effective collaborator in turning the wheels of Knowledge Economy for national growth, turned 63 on June 6, yours sincerely is wishing him many years of good health in service to our country. May TETFund’s new signature venture of promoting research for development be fully realised in the years ahead.