90% of lecturers’ research proposals very poor and unfundable, says TETFund



Eight years after the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) instituted the N3billion National Research Fund (NRF) to enhance research activities in tertiary institutions, only N1.72billion of the fund has so far been accessed by lecturers due to the poor quality of research proposals.

Abdullahi Baffa, Executive Secretary of TETFUND, said this in Abuja on Thursday at the inauguration of NRF screening committee and Technical Advisory Group on Book Development.

He lamented the quality of research proposals submitted by Nigerian lecturers to access the research intervention fund, saying: “Since its establishment in 2009 with the seed fund of N3billion, about N1.72billion has so far been disbursed to finance researches in different thematic areas, and an additional N1billion was allocated in 2016 to beef up the intervention.

“One of the key concerns of the TETFund in respect of the implementation of this intervention is quality of research proposals that are being submitted by applicants.”

He explained that NRF and National Book Development interventions, among 12 other intervention lines, were put in place to assist the fund in the screening and selection process for the purposes of administering the interventions.

“The vision of this intervention is to deliberately promote the evolution of a knowledge-based, globally-competitive, research and development-driven socioeconomic development process in Nigeria,” he said.

“This, we believe, can only be achieved through coordinated, properly-focused and cutting-edge researches in all critical areas, and anchored by scholars in the higher education institutions.”

Femi Bamiro, former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan and member of one of the committees, spoke further on the poor turnout of Nigerian lecturers to accessing the research grant, noting that less than 100 proposals were received when applications were invited for grants.

Speaking on behalf of other members of the committees, he said less than 10 of the proposals were fundable, due to their poor quality.

“If you are talking of knowledge economy, what drives it is research. If research is to translate into development, it cannot just be publications. It has to be research, development and innovations,” he said.

“The burden of research lies on the shoulder of tertiary institutions. Funding research started around 2009 but we must also not forget that prior to then research was probably nothing to think about in tertiary institutions.



    “Only three institutions were lucky to attract foreign grants. I’m speaking for the University of Ibadan, you found out that most of the grants for meaningful research in the system were from WHO and so on. We used to have senate research grant in the university but when the Vice Chancellor cannot even pay salary, how can he get money for allocation of research until TETfund came with that N3billion.”

    “But when we started calling for proposals, initially we got less than 100 from out of the system; whether universities, polytechnics or colleges of education, and out of the 100 we found less than 10 fundable.

    “But I must say that by the time institutions started taking proposal writing seriously, we saw significant improvement. By 2015 we received 817 proposals from the system. Then in 2016, we received 1,846 proposals, which meant that the Nigerian higher education system was now ready for research.”

    The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) campaigned for enhanced funding of research in the universities before TETFund put in place NRF.

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    1. The composition of NRF above is lopsided or skewed in favour of the tertiary institutions only. It would be pleasant if seasoned researchers from various research institutes are considered and copted into the committee so as to balance up for the evaluation of the proposals submittes to conduct research in the country. In a similar vein, it is sad to note, that only researchers from tertiary institutions are considered for grants application. The researchers in various reserach institutes are ignored.

      In view of the foregoing, I would like to say, there is the need to give reserachers in various research institutes levelled ground fields with researchers in the tertiary institutions to compete for research grants. Since the essence of research is to come up with something beneficial to improve quality of lives of citizentry, then, this could be either ways from the tertiary institutions or research institute alike. It is of no advantage streamlining this to only tertiary institutions.

      NRF should borrow leave from other NRFs lets not go far, but from South Africa. Where grants are for all and encompassing. The outputs they get are amazing. Why dont we study and try their approaches? The more we do this the better. I want to say, research institutes have long ago come of age, since some researchers in these institutes were and are capable of attracting international research grants, we as at this moment can proof that from our end here. So, it is good to balance up and make grants application proposal competitative. I agree with Muhammad Mustapha Jibril, no metabolomics particularly where spectroscopic data is to be generated and analysed can go without NMR equipments and SIMCA software. Last time I know it costed a university in Malaysia to obtained one at a whooping cost of RM45.000. Trial versions work for a month. Are we ready because we have those who could operate these, thus should their proposals be poor also? Oster Onuche’s name was all on the media for coming up with a golden tilapia which was patented. The propisal he has written and was approved by ministry of higher education fetch this. People like this will need support to improve on things via research when they return back to Nigeria.


      You are all invited to a grant writing workshop scheduled for 14-15th August 2017 @ National Veterinary Research Institute Vom Nigeria. The tricks will be unveilled by a Professor from Canada who will be visitng the institute. He is a master in the arts of unveiling the tricks embedded in international grant offers.

      Come and learn, lets fill the gaps for our next proposals to TETFund to be 90% good.

    2. What a general indictment? Yes, research proposals might be poor, but how could the situation be improved? How could Tetfund assist in the creation of a conducive environment which will enable our scholars to produce fundable research proposals? Let’s provide solutions and minimise the lamentations.

    3. I challenge this assertion that 90% or proposals from Nigerian lectures are non researchable. To begin, I will like to bring to your notice that our supervisors here in Malaysia (I am presently a PhD student) use our proposals to get different research Grant’s. We are from the same institutions TETFund is referring to.
      You and I know that our beloved Nigerian universities are nothing to write home about when it comes to laboratory equipments required for cutting edge research and yet we kept on insisting on it. By the time we equip our laboratories any well meaning researcher will be the first to put into consideration, the equipments on ground while writing a researchable proposal. For example, one can not write in his methodology that he will use/she will use NMR SPECTROSCOPY and SIMCA software to elucidate the mechanism of action of metabolites in a sample if non of these is accessible by a researcher.
      We should stop day dreaming that we want a proposal for cutting edge research in Nigeria without making available the enabling environment for such.
      My advice to TETFund and Nigerian government is that she should stop romancing the reality, she should create a research oriented environment in Nigerian institutions, put up a system for checking it and set the ball rolling.
      If I may ask, what are the criteria used to score the said 90% of proposals, those who did the assessment are they really qualified and so on. So I am not convinced that Nigerian researchers can not write a proposal.

    4. What a pathetic statement!
      Only ‘10% of research proposal are fundable… If this statement is something to relied upon. I think the agency (Tetfund) has failed in discharging it primary objective of providing scholars with scholarship to further their studies locally or at international level. Yet he is busy denying scholars already on the process of obtaining Masters of Phd in various universities across the globe, instead of the SE to motivate and increase their sponsorship. By the way, a leader suppose to lead by example. If I may ask (SE) how many publictions did he has in any of the world top ranking or refereed journal?


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