In a quest to improve Nigeria’s technological advancement, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has called on the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to provide more funding for training of Academic Technologists in the nation’s universities.
The NAAT president, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, made the call during a courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Professor Suleiman Bogoro in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the association during the visit demanded to be included in the Research, Innovation and Development Committee set up by the TETFUND, which oversee funding of equipment and procurement for tertiary institutions.
He said the Executive Secretary had agreed to organise training for members. Adding that the first batch of 30 would soon leave to France for the training while others would follow suit later.
He explained that technologists are at the core of generating data for research and development and therefore, deserved to be well trained and involved in the procurement process of equipment for laboratory use in tertiary institutions.
According to Nwokoma, many of the equipment supplied to universities have been rendered dormant and inactive due to lack of involvement of technologists during their procurement.
“We came on a courtesy call to the Executive Secretary of TETFUND, to commend him in the first place for the good works he has been doing and to tender some of our demands. If you know the works TETFUND has been doing in Universities you will know that they have been a great asset to the university community and the tertiary institutions as a whole. We commend him for that, and we also commend him for putting up the research and development committee.
“We have also asked that technologists be appointed members of that committee. We also presented other issues that have to do with membership of our union in terms of training, and retraining of technologists because you cannot talk of research and development without the input of the technologists.
“We are in the laboratories and we generate the data. We have direct contact with students and our members use this equipment to generate the products of research and development and thank God we had a wonderful audience with him.
“The Executive Secretary has kick-started the training of technologists abroad, the first 30 will soon go to France for training and after that, more technologists will be sent abroad as he has promised. There will be intervention in the area of training of technologists.
“We also demanded for assistance in terms of publication because we have decided that the numerous data that is being produced and generated in the laboratories has to go into publication. We have demanded assistance in the production of a journal that will be visible and that will be useful in the dissemination of information in terms of research and development.
“We have also asked for equipment auditing for the laboratories because most of the equipment is procured by various heads of tertiary institutions without input from the relevant stakeholders and end users who are the technologists. We are also asking for an audit of equipment that has been sent to universities.
“In terms of procurement of equipment we have requested that technologists should be involved. Not that equipment will be dumped at our doorstep, but that even before the procurement, we should be carried along. Technologies should be part of the procurement process of these equipment.
“A lot of the equipment that has already been sent are in cartons, a lot of them are not in use. A lot of them are just laying there because people have not been trained for the use of these equipment. And we are saying now that you are spending so many billions on equipment. This equipment can not just be dumped, they can not continue to stay in cartons. people must be trained on how to use them. And of course he has assured us that TETFUND will intervene in that area.”
The NAAT president also said the Union may embark on an industrial action by September, if the federal government fails to execute agreements entered with it.
Nwokoma, said the federal government had in September 2020 and February 2021, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union, with an agreement to pay minimum wage arrears to members, make consequential adjustments, commence renegotiations among others.
He however, noted that none of the agreements have been met with.
“The issue we have with the government is that you sign an MoU with the government and thereafter, everybody goes to sleep. That is why there is a problem with medical doctors. We have signed two MoUs with the government. We had one in November and another one in February and till now the government has completely abandoned that MoU.
“Government told us in April 2020 that they were going to pay minimum wage arrears and Consequential adjustments till now nothing has been done about that. Government told us that our circular for CONTISS 14 and 15 was going to be released, up till now they have done nothing about it. Government told us that our renegotiations would have started by now but nothing has been done even after signing the MoU.
“We are going to have our NEC meeting in September and if between now and September, now that they have released the supplementary budget, government does nothing about payment of minimum wage arrears and the renegotiations have not started, I think our NEC will come up with a position paper on the next line of action, which of course, the only language government understands maybe strike. I hope it doesn’t get to that.” Nwokoma stated.