“It is amazing what we can accomplish, if we do not care who gets the credit”.
-Harry S. Truman
By Fatai Ibrahim
When the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro, recently received in audience, the Cultural Affairs Officer of the United States in Nigeria, Mr. Sterling Tilley, in the company of Miss Bello, the Cultural Affairs specialist of the embassy, the top of the table discussion on the agenda of the meeting was a collaboration that was geared towards academic excellence as well as strengthening the already existing relationship between Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the United States Embassy in Nigeria.
Dr. Ronald Osborne, a versatile scholar once posited that “unless you try to do beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”. It is in this context that the TETFund-US embassy collaboration is geared towards developing scholarship, research and educational cooperation as well as knowledge sharing in creating the basis for a friendly academic collaboration and leveraging on each other for mutual benefits. The partnership seeks to strengthen the already existing relationship between TETFund and the embassy, aimed at building capacity of academics in Nigerian Universities.
In his words during the meeting, Mr. Tilley stated that the US government and TETFund could partner through its (US) Fulbright Scholarship Programme is in place through Academic Staff Scholarship Programme, whereby academic staff of Nigerian Public Universities would be jointly supported by both Management of TETFund and US government to undertake their masters and PhD programmes in the US at a cost to be shared by the two entities. TETFund scholars who are also undertaking their PhD in science-related fields in Nigeria could also benefit by being jointly sponsored by TETFund and the US government to undertake their bench work in Universities and research centres or academic institutions in the US. Interestingly, the process which was started in 2015 by the Erudite Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, before his exit from office in 2016, if concluded, would further justify the confidence the US government has on TETFund as one of the foremost agencies of the Nigerian government.
The TETFund boss during the meeting said the desire to revive discussions on the partnership could not have come at a better time, adding that it would increase the number of participants seeking to further their studies at the masters and PhD levels, as well as those desirous of undertaking their bench work in American Universities and research institutions/centres. He pointed out that TETFund is looking forward to expanding its scholarship programme to accommodate the increasing numbers of academic staff yearning for opportunities for further studies and assured that the management of the Fund is ready for such partnership and would facilitate arrangements to ensure it is concretised within the shortest possible time. Prof. Bogoro did not fail to add that the embassy decided to partner with TETFund through its Fulbright programme because of the credible scholarship programme which TETFund runs.
It should be noted that scholars on this partnership will enjoy the full status of both TETFund and Fulbright sponsored scholars and other opportunities available after the completion of their programme. It is also worthy of note that between 2014 and 2016 when Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro steered the affairs of TETFund, over 10,000 academic staff from various public higher institutions across the country were sponsored to undergo masters and PhD programmes in local and foreign academic institutions. The numerous infrastructure including massive buildings littered across public tertiary institutions in the country with equipped laboratories cannot be over emphasised. This is all geared towards academic excellence. What a commendable feat and shining example by a focused, vibrant and versatile scholar full of passionate for high quality and a knack for excellence!
TETFund under the visionary and dynamic leadership of Bogoro, who anchors his unique leadership on trust and integrity, has been matching words with action by walking his talk through unprecedented and revolutionary initiatives in TETFund which is aimed at transformation of the education sector cum nation building. Team work, the fulcrum on which TETFund stands, no doubt, has enabled the agency to achieve a lot under the indefatigable Executive Secretary who sees every member of staff as very important and major contributor towards successful attainment set goals and objectives. It is Mother Theresa, a proponent of service to humanity who said,
“What you can do, I can’t do, what I can do you can’t do, but together we can do great things”. Also laying emphasis on team work, Vincent Lombardi, the late American football player and coach said, “The achievements of an organisation are the results of the combined efforts of each individual” and this is clearly the case at TETFund.
There is the need for stakeholders in our tertiary education sector to compliment Prof Bogoro’s desire to achieve academic excellence in our ivory towers. Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro, a great son of Nigeria has continued to remain a beacon of light and hope, a source of inspiration to millions of scholars globally, a pride to our fatherland (Nigeria) and great role model for true leadership. It is my hope and belief the present crop of emerging scholars and up-coming intelligentsia, would emulate from the outstanding leadership qualities of this great and illustrious son of Africa, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, in their quest to attain greatness.
Interestingly, if TETFund and the US Embassy in Nigeria can tenaciously implement the focus of the synergy, the quest for academic excellence in our ivory towers will be a thing of the past. While urging TETFund and the US embassy to always have in mind the illuminating words of Napoleon Hill who says, “Cherish your vision and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul and the blue prints of your ultimate achievements’’.
I am therefore making a clarion call to other organisations across the globe to take a cue from this exemplary and trail-blazing collaboration, between TETFund and the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria in order to fast-track and accelerate development of Nigeria’s education sector to the next and desired level. Before I put my pain down, let me humbly leave you with the immortal words of Charles DeGaulle that, “Nothing great was ever archived without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so”.
Ibrahim can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org