THE NON-ENACTMENT OF THE NATIONAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION COUNCIL ACT
Knowing fully well that no nation develops by funding research solely through budgetary allocations, the authors of the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation 2012 appropriately made provision for the establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) in Section 4, “FUNDING FOR ST & I ACTIVITIES.” It was welcome development therefore when former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on February 18, 2014, inaugurated the NRIC barely 15 months to the end of his tenure. Taking it up from there, President Muhammadu Buhari re-inaugurated the Council, of which he is Chairman, on January 7, 2016, barely six months into his administration, expressing the hope that through appropriate funding of research as envisaged by the NRIC dream, the nation would start producing Nobel Laureates. He went ahead to preside over no fewer than three meetings of the Council.
Yet, without an Establishment Act, the NRIC still lacked legal muscle. So it was heart-warming when, during the Eighth Assembly, a private member’s Bill to establish the National Research and Innovation Council and Foundation was initiated at the National Assembly. Introduced by Senator David Umaru of Niger East Senatorial District, the Bill was co-sponsored by 50 other Senators and passed on January 31, 2018. The NRIC Bill was transmitted to the Villa for Presidential consent on August 2, 2018, but was returned on 30th August 2018 by Mr. President, citing some grey areas. The Bill was rectified by the National Assembly and re-transmitted to the Villa on 17th June 2019. However, the Bill was still denied Presidential assent, this time without any official explanation either directly by Mr. President as he did the first time or through any of his aides.
ASURI believes very strongly that as important as NRIC is not only for the Research and Development Institutes (RDIs) sector but also for the country as a whole and in spite of the optimism of Mr. President in its capacity to turn things around, some of his aides in the bureaucracy are up in arms against its establishment for reasons best known to them.