Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has asked the federal government to separate the budget of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, from annual education budget.
It explained that the measure would enable effective budget implementation.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodoke, said this at the TETFund Alliance for Innovative Research, TETFAIR, Showcase and Closing Event, held Thursday, in Abuja.
Osodeke, who was speaking against the backdrop of suspicion that the national budget may not enjoy 100 per cent implementation, observed that strangely, for the first time, government decided to add TETFund’s budget to the national budget.
The ASUU president added that once TETTund’s budget is included in the national budget, “it is finished.”
He also called on Nigerians to deal with inferiority complex, which allows them to depend on services abroad, stating that every country in the world that wants to develop must use its ideas and use its people and those ideas are in the universities.
Osodeke decried continuous patronage of foreign goods and services by Nigerians even when they can be sourced locally.
“In 2020 we were challenged to produce something better than IPPIS, it took us two months to produce it, UTA, which we have presented to the National Assembly, to the House; then we said let’s test the twin and IPPIS came last; but Nigeria insisted on using IPPIS.
“Every year, the Nigerian government pays $40 to a company in UK for paying me salary and you reject the one in your university. You want to do anything you run abroad,” he said.
While commending TETFund for the TETFAIR project, he assured that the men engaged in the scheme can solve Nigeria’s problems, stating that “we must come back home and use our ideas.”
Osodeke also warned against political interference in TETFund from authorities overseeing the ministry.
“Nigeria is in deep crisis. Our best brains whether in the academic or medical are leaving the country. Thousands of our colleagues, the good ones are leaving the country. Some are leaving to go and farm. We must rescue our country. Allow the money for universities go into universities,” he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Labour, Hon Simon Lalong, who described the occasion as a celebration of the remarkable innovative achievements over the year, said the scheme serves as a platform for researchers and innovators to showcase their groundbreaking ideas to transform them into tangible solutions.
Lalong expressed confidence that the valuable experiences gained through the TETFAIR will empower Nigerian scholars to contribute significantly to their fields at home and internationally.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc Sonny Echono, said the fair was organised to support researchers in universities to bring their innovative ideas to fruition.
While reiterating the importance of Nigeria transiting to a knowledge-based economy, Echono stated that the world has moved from a resource-rich economy to a knowledge-based one and Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind.
“TETFund, as the foremost interventionist agency in Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Sector has deepened its intervention in content-based programmes. The Fund is making conscious investments in support of research, innovation and development as it remains the most compelling strategy for accelerating sustainable growth.”
On his part, the Minister of State for Education, Hon Yusuf Sununu, said the TETFAIR was not the only research effort being made towards national development, stating that Nigerian researchers were also engaged in multi-prong efforts, including the development of vaccines for preventable diseases in Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Sununu called on TETFund to scale up copywrite ownership protection so that the innovators will not lose copywrite ownership of their products and services.
The minister also called for collaboration between the academia and industry and other stakeholders to ensure marketability of the products churned out by the innovators.
In her remarks, the Chaiman House Committee on Tertiary Education, Princess Miriam Onouha, expressed satisfaction with the level of research efforts put together by Nigerian academics through TETFund’s partnership with Innov8 Hub under the TETFAIR scheme.
Onouha expressed hope that gains made in the project will eventually help to address unemployment in the country, while assuring that the legislature will provide the needed support to ensure success of the TETFAIR.