The federal government has reviewed its National Research Fund (NRF) domiciled with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to N7.5 billion for 2020 from an initial N5 billion in 2019.
The agency also said the latest increase in the fund makes it the largest holder of research grants in Nigeria.
The National Research Fund was established pursuant to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2011 for the resuscitation of research activities in Nigerian institutions.
The executive secretary of TETFund, Suleiman Bogoro, said this at the 2020 TETFund Board of Trustees (BOT) Retreat in Abuja on Wednesday.
The official said President Muhammadu Buhari also approved the establishment of six medical simulation research and clinical training facilities in six colleges of medicine in each geopolitical zone within the year.
He said the approval provided an opportunity for TETFund to provide 12 COVID-19 and related infectious disease molecular laboratories, two in each geopolitical zone, “making the fund the highest single provider of such test centres in Nigeria.”
“The BOT also approved that TETFund sponsors some COVID-19 research proposals to the tune of over N200 million, mainly from Universities and NAFDAC, this being one of the reasons TETFund has recently been made the secretariat for the Nigeria COVID-19 Research Consortium R&D,” he said.
He said the board of trustees of TETFund also approved over N200 million, to sponsor some COVID-19 research proposals mainly from universities and NAFDAC.
“In addition, the BOT also endorsed and (this) was subsequently approved by the President, that six medical simulation research and clinical Training facilities in six colleges of medicine (one in each geopolitical zone) are to be established this year.”
The TETFund boss noted that approval had been granted for TETFund to commit funds “to reverse the embarrassing situation of hostel accommodation in tertiary institutions and make learning environment more attractive for local and foreign students.”
He said only 15 per cent of Nigerian students were living in hostel accommodation in their institutions.
He said the BoT has also directed the management of the agency to make recommendations towards migration of e-learning consistent with global best practice.
Speaking on the achievements of TETFund between 2011 and 2019, the BoT Chairman, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, said the fund constructed 80 auditoriums and lecture theatres in the 223 benefitting institutions.
Ibrahim-Imam said the fund also constructed 500 classrooms, 2,383 administrative and staff offices, 40 fully equipped libraries, 250 science laboratories, 38 ICT centres, 8 medical centres and sick bays, 100 vehicles and major infrastructures in the 12 newly established federal universities.
“To consolidate on the achievements, the TETFund has made provision in the 2020 budget for emergency special intervention to the University of Abuja and special high impact projects to six universities, one from each geopolitical zone,” he said
He said the agency will provide take-off grants to the six newly created federal polytechnics, one in each geo-political zone, and construct over 200,000 hostel accommodation in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to tackle the deficit of accommodation in the institutions.
“We will scale up the provision of fit-for-purpose infrastructure, result-oriented research, and cutting-edge technology to our tertiary institutions. And we will do all these with utmost integrity,” he said.