Nnaji urges govt to set up agency to fund research, innovation

FORMER Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, has urged the Federal Government to set up a risk fund agency to aid research and innovation in higher institutions in the country.

Nnaji made the appeal in Abuja during a National Higher Education Forum, organised for stakeholders in the tertiary education sector.

He disclosed that the sum of N3bn domiciled with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for the development of research in higher institutions  was grossly inadequate and needs to be increased in order to meet up with the demands of the sector, adding that inadequate funding would lead to insufficiency of infrastructures in the country.

“To get meaningful research that will translate into innovations and move the nation forward the government must invest in this field,” Nnaji, who is the chairman of Geometric Power Limited, the first indigenously owned private sector Power Company in Nigeria.

He opined that funding must not necessarily fully come from the Federal Government as banks and other corporate bodies in the private sector can support research work in the tertiary institutions in their respective ways.

“The Federal Government should set up an agency for risk fund. The agency will be a central coordinating body that would harness all research works in the institutions and also link them to industries,” he stated adding that, “funding agencies must take risk to believe in research products from the tertiary institutions.”

He encouraged the academics to involve students in full research works so as to give it proper meaning and for the country to research its way to the top in the industrial space.

Also speaking at the forum, Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Rahmon Bello, said that collaboration between tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the industries and the Federal Government has been identified as a tool to ensure proper training of skilled manpower.