ASURI decries dearth of funds for research institutes

The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has lamented that despite the importance, positive impact, and benefits of research institutes, funds allocated for them in the country has been inadequate.

It argued that considering the critical roles that research institutes play in exploring new knowledge and improving on existing scenarios towards enhancing institutional and national development, adequate funds ought to be channeled to research. 

ASURI Secretary-General, Prof Theophilus Ndubuaku stated this in Abuja at a joint press conference with the Civil Society Coalition for Research Funding and Strategies for National Transformation. 

Prof. Ndubuaku explained that, unlike universities, research institutes have a reach to the grassroots. He listed its members with substations in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory including the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI), and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) among others.

Ndubuaku lauded the positive developments at the Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) under the present Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Jummai Tutuwa. 

He called for the appointment of qualified and experienced researchers who are home-grown in the sector, as chief executives. This, he said, will enable research institutes to fulfill their mandates. 

The Secretary General called for synergy between research institutes and universities, adding that “In other climes, university lecturers go to research Institutions to do their sabbatical. Because this is where you have the facilities. If you want to conduct a research that covers the whole country, and you are from the university, how would you do it if you don’t go through NBTI, Raw Materials? If you want to reach out to the grassroots, you go through research institutes.

“But here, it is cat and mouse. The university lecturers so hate the research officers that when the National Assembly said we want to review the TETFund Act and give some money to research institutes, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) threatened me.”

He underscored the role of research to national development, even as he called on the National Assembly to pass the National Research and Innovation Council Bill currently before it. 

He also lamented the exclusion of Colleges of Agriculture in the country among beneficiary institutions of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

“You have polytechnics in this country that award HND. They are covered by TETFund. But you have Colleges of Agriculture that also offer HND courses. They are not under TETFund. Just because they are not under Ministry of Education. 

“We got the Science and Technology policy which made provision for National Research and Innovation Council and National Research Fund. It has been on the drawing board since the 60’s. And has been reviewed 12 times without implementing the major thing which is the research council to coordinate and fund research.”