TETFund, UniPort To Partner On R&D

By Humphrey Ogu


Ways of tackling challenges associated with insecurity and the environment in Nigeria through research and development was the thrust of a meeting between the University and two committees set up by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). The meeting took place at the Vice Chancellor's Committee Room on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Briefing the Acting Vice Chancellor on their mission, Leader of the TETFund Committee on Environment and Bioresources, Professor Eka Braide noted that “TETFund plans to start a National Research and Development Foundation, using the Triple-Helix model. When established, the foundation will focus on research for development, not just for promotion as has been the case in the past.” She listed agriculture, health, Information and Communication Technology, as some of the areas the outcome of research would be harnessed to solve problems.    Disclosing that the teams had earlier visited the Rivers State Government House, Ministry of Environment, Rivers State University, amongst other strategic institutions, Professor Braide identified gas flaring, waste management, destruction of mangrove forests and soot as some of the environmental issues in the state.  On his part, Leader of the TETFund Committee on Defence and Security, Professor Oluwole Familoni, noted that his committee was in UniPort to interact with stakeholders on research activities that would tackle security challenges. He said the purpose was to bring researchers, industry experts and government together to achieve a common goal. “The problem with defence is that if you have to buy something, you will be at the mercy of the seller. Each country should be able to make weapons with which to defend themselves against external aggression. The purpose of this is to bring experts together to carry out research and send the outcome of the research to industry for the production of hardware,” he said, adding that the Executive Secretary of TETFund was very passionate about the research for development programme.    Responding, Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Stephen Okodudu, who described the visiting teams as his colabourers in the vineyard of academics, said: “the nation is at the crossroads, and the time has come for us to harvest intellectual reasoning for the betterment of our nation. Every development effort should aim at indigenisation, for no nation can develop another nation. What we are facing in the country today is the effect of many years of neglect and destruction of the environment.” Professor Okodudu informed the TETFund team that UniPort has been practising the Triple-Helix model for over eight years with the establishment of the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), Centre for Occupational Health, Safety and Environment (COHSE) African Centres of Excellence and so on. “We now talk of Quadruple Helix. We have done a number of research in this University. Not so long, I chaired an NUC-sponsored committee on Nigeria's Prosperity 2050,” he added. Also speaking, Co-ordinator, World Bank Centres—African Centre of Excellence in Oilfield Chemical Research and Public Health and Toxicological Research, Professor Onyewuchi Akaranta, lauded Professors Braide and Familoni, noting that African Centre of Excellence in Oilfield Chemical Research had been carrying out research on the impact of oil exploration and production activities in the Niger Delta.

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