The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has lamented the lack of adequate funding for research in the country, urging the National Assembly to re-enact the National Research and Innovation Council Bill.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, the Secretary General of ASURI, Dr Theophilous Ndubuaku, stressed the disgrace it is that while other countries are making research on COVID-19 vaccines and solutions, Nigeria has been waiting for research breakthroughs from abroad.
He explained that Nigerian researchers are watching on the sidelines because the research institutions in Nigeria have been abandoned by successive administrations.
Dr Ndubuaku said the union is convinced that once the the Bill is passed and the necessary mechanisms to fund and coordinate research are put in place, the results will be not just provide solutions for us but will also bring economic profit.
He said: “No body will doubt the fact that Nigeria has the best brains that can turn the fortune of the nation around within a short period of time if the necessary mechanisms are provided for the growth. This is proven by the exploits of Nigerians abroad.”
The Secretary General said the 8th Assembly had passed the Bill and sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, but the President returned it citing some grey areas.
“Unfortunately till date, nobody has heard anything about that bill anymore. We have chosen this time to go back to the National Assembly, the 9th Assembly to present a request and the request is for the 9th Assembly to re-enact the National Research and Innovation Council Bill.
“The NRICB, is a pullout from the National Policy on Science and Technology. The NPST was initiated in the 60s and it was at that time that international agencies also sponsored the science and technology policy for so many Asia countries we here about today.
“In those days, Nigeria was far much better economically than the Asia tigers of today. In fact, in the 60s we used to have the Indian s and Pakistanis coming to nigeria to seek for job. In the 60s this NPST was initiated in Nigeria but nothing was done. The main issue with the policy was funding and co-ordination of research. Nothing was done from the 60s until 2016. Within that period the policy was reviewed 13th times without putting in place the mechanism for the funding and coordination of research which is contained in the policy.
“It was in 2016 that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the National Research and Innovation Council and after that he held two more meeting. The council is supposed to chaired by him and that supervises research. There are about 12 ministries that supervises research in Nigeria. And all the ministers in those 12 ministries are suppose to be members of the council. This council is suppose to make available funding and coordination of research institutes in Nigeria.
“Now after President Buhari inaugurated the council, the Academic Staff Union moved and we got Senator David Umaru, to sponsor a bill to give legal backing to the council president Buhari had already inaugurated. The National Assembly has enacted the bill and sent to the presidency for assent. Presidency returned the bill with a few comments on some gray areas but those gray areas we were surprise because one of those gray areas was spelling mistakes.
“And we felt that since the President is the chairman the council, he could have as well appointed the officers to run the council and directed them to go the National Assembly and correct the gray areas since they are so few. Anyways we went to the National Assembly and they corrected the mistakes and send it back to the president.”
Also speaking, the President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Solomon Adodo, expressed his support for ASURI’s call for the passage of the bill. He stressed that it a positive step and urged the national assembly to heed the call saying any failure may lead to a protest.