From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Researchers have stressed the urgent need for a research funding agency, which they said, will help to facilitate and support research works in Nigeria.

Executive Director, African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) Network, Prof. Nicholas Ozor, led the campaign for the establishment of research funding agency at a validation workshop on “Strengthening Research and Innovation Funding Agencies in West Africa, in Abuja, on Monday.

Prof. Ozor said the workshop was aimed at giving momentum to a project designed to strengthen national research councils in six West African countries.

He expressed concerns about the non-existence of a national research and innovation funding agency in Nigeria, saying the absence has denied the country’s ability to attract foreign grants for research.

He said: “Nigeria do not have a well-recognized national research and innovation funding agency, and that is partly why we are here to work with relevant agencies and stakeholders within the science and innovation ecosystem, to see how we can establish a functional science and innovation funding agency in Nigeria.

“It’s interesting to know that other countries in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, already have these functional research agencies and because of that, they are able to receive funding from agencies across the world to support research and development.

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“Currently, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) serves as the representative council for Nigeria, but we are saying we should best situate the national research and innovation funding agency in an appropriate establishment that focuses on innovation, like the Ministry of Science and Innovation. ”

President of African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Prof. Peter Onwualu, in his remarks, harped on the importance of innovation in bringing about development, stating that the workshop was expected to usher in a functional science granting council in Nigeria.

“We believe that outcome of this workshop will make Nigeria have a functional science granting council that can finance and fund research in all sectors of the economy. These people you see on the streets inventing one thing or another need support to be able to move from research to goods and services.”

Meanwhile, Assistant Director, Research and Development (R&D) of the TETFund, Dr. Hadiza Ismail, disclosed that the Fund has spent over N23 billion on funding 912 different research projects across the country.

She said the Fund is also working hard to ensure that research outputs are linked to industry to bring about the desired development. “Despite the fact that we have given grants to over 900 projects, we want to see how we can link these research projects to industry and get viable outcomes at the end of the day to help Nigeria move forward,” she said.