Research as a Sine Qua Non for National Development

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By Onobe, Melchizedec J., PhD & Jesse Ishaku

Most developing countries of the world which Nigeria is part of, have tried to develop the social wellbeing of its citizenry through research. However, the ability of individuals to be creative and come up with novel ideas, which is stimulated by a specified method or procedure in place, is what primarily manifests progressive change which in turn modifies the social structure of the society. Nations throughout the world that have research centers set up with the goal of creating necessary initiatives or methods that will assist minimize development obstacles and maximize environmental potentials abound. While notable milestones and breakthroughs have been made in a number of countries in this area, many others like Nigeria; are still working to establish their footing when it comes to coming up with ways to fully realize their potential.

Empirical evidence demonstrates that the degree of commitment/funding by government/corporate organizations to research activities, attitudes and how knowledgeable its citizens are in appreciating and encouraging local inventions, as well as the amount of synergy between research centers and government/corporate organizations, are what determine the differences in the level of development among these sets of nations.

Interestingly, impacts of research and development span many areas of human activity, including social, economic, political, educational, scientific and technology, and they are unmistakably key factors of how quickly society develops as a whole. Research development sparked the growth of science and technology, which in turn sparked industrialization, create jobs, raise incomes, increase production of goods and services, and create wealth. Industrialization also improved quality of life, connected global regions, encouraged population clustering, and unites socially, economically and politically diverse countries.

Research is the process of carefully examining something or some situation with the goal of bringing about change and betterment. It is a method for gathering accurate and helpful information and data on the specific subject of the study as well as analyzing the material gathered to get a reliable conclusion. Therefore, finding relevant solutions to questions that try to address societal problems is the primary goal of research. The scientific approach is used in research to develop or validate novel and fascinating notions.

It is the pursuit, creation, discovery, and development of new information, knowledge, rules, theories, and practices. It is also recognised as a methodical, impartial search for information with the goal of establishing theories and demonstrating the veracity of notions, hypotheses, and assumptions.

Research and experimental development (R&D) are crucial to innovation, which has recently emerged as one of the main forces driving economic growth and the eradication of poverty (UNESCO, 2010). Unfortunately, Nigerian political figures, decision-makers, and sector/institutional administrators have not yet fully grasped this global trend that transforms low proficiency/productivity, poverty eradication, lack of fulfillment, stagnation, and underdevelopment as seen in some other parts of the world through research and development.

A more accurate way to describe Nigeria’s experience would be to state that its officials embraced the framework for creating institutions (research institutions and universities) but failed to do so in a way that reflected the actual principles upon which such institutions were founded. These fundamentals include establishment, proper and courteous administration led by sound and seasoned administrators selected in an unbiased way, proper funding, intended research outputs, appreciation and acceptance/utilization of final research results by its people.

Be that as it may, if the leadership, administrative structure, and financing model are left out, the problems facing the Nigerian research industry will not be fully understood given how these elements have also hindered the sector’s efforts to satisfy its own objectives and the demands of the country’s growth. Development initiatives are fueled by mentoring, quality funding, functional leadership capacity, people’s attitudes toward innovative ideals, and political leaders’ abilities, whereas stagnation and underdevelopment are fueled by resentful bureaucrats and attitudes that prioritize consumption over production. It is worthy to note that, the primary purpose of research is to discover potential obstacles to achieving desired growth in order to provide potential remedies to the observed constraints. This is done in nations with progressive mindset and development aspirations.

Consequently, the complete lack of a clear national development philosophy, which should outline the direction in which Nigeria wants to focus its development efforts and which should remain constant regardless of how frequently political power changes hands, is seen by stakeholders as one of the main issues hindering scientific research in general and educational research in particular. The practitioner in the education business, including the researchers, are perplexed by Nigeria’s frequent changes in political power and the ensuing instability, inconsistency, and incoherence in governmental policies and programmes.

Prior to completing an evaluation of a certain program or policy, the researcher either discards it or replaces it with a different, sometimes entirely different one. Similarly, educational and scientific institutions in Nigeria have also suffered as a result of the political unrest. Strikes, lockouts, school closings, and general social unrest regularly cause disruptions in the academic calendar, which can affect the direction, timing, method, and standard of any research effort in the field of education. The politician or policy maker out there are still impatient and have the usual mistrust of the education researcher. For a coordinated research endeavor to be successful, a consistent, comprehensive, and coherent philosophy of national development is required.

The hallmark of well-planned research initiatives and development agenda by prosperous nations with high capacity, visionary/corrupt-free leadership is increased productivity, improved socioeconomic wellbeing, income, infrastructural development, employment opportunities, improved quality of local produce for both local and foreign markets, and the like. One of the expected goals of a functional research and development program is to provide the people with the skills they need to carry out their economic activities with a noticeable level of proficiency, which will enable them to produce their maximum amount of output. These abilities include developing the people’s abilities to successfully harness and exploit the potentials present in their environment.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the ideal setting for research is still lacking. For the development and application of research, an ideal setting is required. Many factors need to be taken into account for this to occur. These include enough institutional capability, educated human resources, suitable infrastructure, and adequate financial assistance. Additionally, it entails inspiring everyone to adopt scientific culture as a way of life. Practitioners and policymakers in Nigeria need to pay serious attention to these and other issues. In addition to the problem of people being placed in headship positions improperly, a major obstacle to the desired advancement in science and technology is the underutilization of well-trained personnel. The majority of Nigerian scientists are either out of the country looking for greener pastures, wandering the streets/idle, or working in organizations where their scientific expertise is useless.

According to an analysis of Nigeria’s economic growth from 2000 to the present, general macroeconomic policies and development plans have fallen short of creating an environment that would allow for a change in the organization of production and consumption in order to broaden the country’s economic base. The nation’s persistent reliance on oil and monoculture suggests that the export base still needs to be broadened. Widening savings versus investment gaps, rising inflation rates, ongoing balance of payments issues, and underutilization of resources have persisted as the norm. With about 71 million Nigerians living on less than $1 per day and an inequality index of 0.49, poverty and inequality are pervasive. In order to promote sustainable economic growth and development, however; research development should have the highest priority in view of Nigeria’s existing economic issues, notably its poor status and underwhelming rates of economic growth. It is clear that capacity development via investments in human capital, particularly education/research, may boost economic growth, relieve poverty, and safeguard the Nigerian economy against additional distortions. This is because a healthy, well-educated, inventive population makes an economy more productive.       

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