Scholars have proposed the establishment of an institutionalised research funding agency in Nigeria. They made this proposal at a three-day National Workshop held at the Lagos State University (LASU) between 12th and 14th February, 2018.
The event sought to equip participants with necessary skills in research proposal writing, seeking grants, and the utilisation of such funds.
EduCeleb.com reports that participants also called for better collaboration in research among Nigerian academics at home and in the diaspora.
The workshop was organised by LASU in collaboration with the National Universities Commission (NUC), the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), and Open Africa Innovation Research (OpenAIR).
The Director of Research and Innovation at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf identified that access to funds rather than funding was the problem with research in Nigeria.
Dr Ramon-Yusuf who was represented by Dr Audu assured participants that the NUC looked forward to further collaboration with the LASU management on such initiatives.
While acknowledging the existence of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the research grants provided through the NUC, Professor Segun Adewuya of LASU mooted the idea of a research funding agency.
Just like the United Kingdom Research Councils, he said such an agency would be able to devote proper attention to funding and monitoring research. He added that TETFUND was already overwhelmed with responsibilities that may not necessarily be dedicated to research.
A professor from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Olukayode Akinyemi observed the need for home-grown solutions to solve the myriads of problems in Africa. He said collaborations should rather be between African researchers rather than the usual Africa-European/American collaborations.
“Only Africans can solve African problems. There is serious need for collaborations between Africans (at home) and Africans in the Diaspora.”
A former Executive Secretary of the NUC, Peter Okebukola also faulted foreign funding agencies such as the World Bank which would dictate to African researchers research areas of choice.
Professor Okebukola believed that since the funds were loans rather than gifts, the agencies should rather let African researchers decide on how to utilise them for researches.
Earlier at the workshop, the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Olarewaju Fagbohun on his part identified the need for universities and industries to work together in producing meaningful research towards national development.
He also added that industries don’t fund university researches because universities undertake researches without carrying industry players along.
“Therefore, the industry cannot fund researches because they do not utilise the outcome.When you have innovation, you will be able to commercialise it and that is what will generate money.
“As long as there is disconnect between the universities and industry, in terms of research, there is no way to achieve coherence for development,’’ Professor said.
The VC said the workshop was meant to develop the capacity of academics, who would be applying for grants, and non-academics, saddled with the responsibility to manage such grants.
Fagbohun said that the workshop would also serve as platform for hands-on training of participants from different universities and research institutions.
In his keynote address, the immediate Director-General of the NIALS, Epiphany Azinge said that based on findings, the majority of the universities were not accessing the research grants available for them.
Azinge observed that 25 billion dollars TETFUND grant had not been accessed by Nigerian universities, adding that the highest amount received for research by any university in the last one year was N40 million.
“It is clear that majority of the research funds are channelled to polytechnics and colleges of education because universities are not applying for the grant. Universities are not applying for research grants enough,” he stated.
On his part, the Deputy Director, Network Incubator, Mr Bankole Oloruntoba, said:“Universities do not want to get involved in the business end of research.
“The private sector has the money, the universities have the knowledge and solutions, so, the universities must know how to connect with the industry operators.”
A Senior Lecturer at the Strathmore Law School, Nairobi, Kenya, Isaac Rutenberg, advised that universities should have reasons and expectations before writing a research proposal or asking for grant.
Mr Rutenberg said universities should have different goals and purposes to enable them to gain audience and grants from the industries.
Among participants at the event were tertiary education academics, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary researchers, graduate students, university administrators, and non-academic staff of institutions from within and outside Nigeria.