The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations have expressed hope that the renaming of the ministry of science and technology will spur more funding for research and innovation in the country.
ASURI and the Coalition during a rally in Abuja in support of the renaming of the ministry, which is now known as Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation urged the minister to renew the drive for the enactment and establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council by initiating an Executive Bill to the National Assembly.
In a letter addressed to the Minister, Dr Ogbonnaya, the Coalition said they are convinced that the reason Nigeria has been designated the poverty capital of the world is because of neglect of research institutions and researchers by successive governments.
The letter which was signed by ASURI Secretary General, Dr Theophilus Ndubuaku and leaders of the over 20 CSOs stated that research is the key to the development of any nation and applied research as conducted in mandate research institutions – and not basic research which is the pre-occupation of university lecturers – has been evidently neglected.
They argued that TETFund has not funded any project because they claim the Fund is strictly for university research, adding that several efforts by successive National Assembly to amend TETFUND Act to accommodate research institutions are vehemently resisted by TETFUND and ASUU.
The letter reads in part: “We are convinced that establishing the NRIC is the best and incontestable strategy for coordinating applied research in Nigeria. Yet the story of the establishment of NRIC is pathetic and is one of the most veritable examples of how lack of commitment and playing politics with national development is killing Nigeria.
“The NRIC Bill is a verbatim pullout from the National Policy of Science and Technology which was initiated in the 60s and has been reviewed 14 times without birthing the core of the policy which is coordination and funding of research institutions which are spread across 14 MDAs like sheep without shepherd.
“The fact that there are a plethora of councils and commissions, among others, for all manner of political contraptions but none for research which is the key to national development is unimaginable and a blight on everyone in a position of leadership in Nigeria, past and present.”
The Coalition said as major stakeholders in the RDIs sector, they are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that adequate funding of research is the way to go and NRIC is the best way out.
The letter reminded the minister that the report of the 16-Man Technical Committee on Minimum Wage and Palliatives in 2016 recommended the “Establishment of a tax Fund for Adequate and Consistent Funding of Research Institutes, Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry and Allied Institutions.”
This report was jointly endorsed by five Ministers (Petroleum Resources, Budget and National Planning, Finance, Solid Minerals, Labour and Employment, as well as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legal Matters, Research and Documentation