By Fatai Ibrahim
“THE heights that great men and women reached were not attained by sudden flights but while their companions slept, they were toiling upward at night to achieve success and giant strides.” – Jerry Goodfellow (1939-2018).
Also, Napoleon Hills, in one of his memorable quotes, opines that, “The future leadership of any society is dependent upon men and women who are willing to go extra mile.”
The above quotes capture the visionary leadership of Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), as an intellectual giant and an untiring technocrat. The highly cerebral scholar knows and understands the importance of research and development in the promotion of academic excellence and this he has given some flavour.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That is what Professor Bogoro is promoting at TETfund. The TETfund directing mind believes that research should not just be undertaken for the sake of it. He is convinced that the era of research which gives certificates, Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhDs to students is over. According to him, research should solve problems at the level of Senior Professors while the emphasis should be on problem-solving research that is synonymous with research and development. Bogoro is of the school of thought that exchange of knowledge is what is needed in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions of learning. “Nigerians might not need to bother on specialised universities for now but rather on quality of teachers, publications, laboratories, teaching aids, conducive learning environment, ICT service facilities and competitive index.
Speaking at an interactive session with directors of research in Nigerian universities, the TETfund Executive Secretary said the move to concentrate on research became necessary in view of the inability of some lecturers to write grant-winning research proposals, while stressing that TETfund leadership would provide N10 million to each of its beneficiary institutions for capacity building and academic staff training in the area of research and proposal writing.
Professor Bogoro has assiduously worked for the creation of research fund. A committee has already been set up and saddled with the responsibility to nurture it for the next two years, work with the government and give advice on the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation. The good news is that President Muhammadu Buhari approved N5 billion for the National Research Fund in 2019.
Manuscript development and journal publications are also part of the focal point of Bogoro’s visionary leadership. He supports textbooks production by lecturers as well as the transformation of PhD thesis to text books. It is TETfund’s plan in 2020 to establish centres of excellence across public universities to boost research and development. During the inauguration of the committee on book development, Professor Bogoro opened up on the establishment of Academic Publishing Centres (APC) which is designed for the nation’s scholars in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.
At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Bogoro inaugurated the iconic TETfund-funded Academic Publishing Centre Building. The idea of the UNILAG’s publishing centre, according to the TETfund boss, came out of the challenge of publishing and reading culture in Nigeria. The new publishing centre has two main components: the visual section of the e-library and the book section.
“When we started the idea of supporting Master’s degree, but mainly PhDs sponsorship, both local and overseas at that time, only 40 per cent of Nigerian lecturers had PhD. After about three to four years of that intervention, the percentage went up to 60 per cent and today we believe it is in the region of 70 to 80 per cent, which is a significant improvement,” Bogoro said.
TETfund’s response under the dynamic leadership of Professor Bogoro to the Federal Government’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic is also commendable. The fund has recommended the provision of modern medical stimulation equipment in six colleges of medicine, all aimed at reversing avoidable medical tourism by Nigerians, leading to capital flight.
It is worth mentioning that TETfund has deepened intervention in the area of content component of our tertiary institutions, particularly in academic staff training, manuscript development, journals and research, which has enabled favourable ranking of some Nigerian universities within Africa.
Commendations have been pouring in in torrents on the giant strides of Professor Bogoro at TETfund. “We commend TETfund under the visionary and dynamic leadership of Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro for funding the construction of several modern buildings in our college, including e library, a formal and informal building, an ultramodern laboratory, technical and vocational building,” said Dr Patrick Uko, former Provost, Akwa Ibom State College of Education. Also, a former vice chancellor of FUT-Minna, Professor Musbau Akanji, said: “We praise Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro for funding research and infrastructural developments in our tertiary institutions.”
As he implements the next level agenda of President Buhari in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Professor Bogoro should draw further strength from the words of Henry Killer: “Never bend your head, hold it high and look the world straight in the eye.”
Ibrahim, an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Abuja, writes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.