By Yemie Adeoye
ABUJA – THEÂ Â Â PetroleumÂ Â Technology Development Fund will from this year extend its upgrade of departments in Nigeria universities to the state government-owned institutions.
A statement obtained by our correspondent in Abuja quoted the Executive Secretary of PTDF, Mr. Muttaqua Rabe Darma as saying that the fund will upgrade 20 departments of universities in 2010 and they will include state-owned schools.
Previously, only universities owned by the Federal Government benefited from PTDFâ€™s programme of upgrading the facilities of selected departments that have relevance to the oil and gas industry.
According to the Executive Secretary, PTDF had so far upgraded eight departments in eight universities and was in the process of upgrading another eight departments in different universities, bringing the number to 16.
He said, â€œWe intend to upgrade 20 departments in 20 universities, now including state universities. We will bring these upgraded departments at par with any of its peers anywhere in the world. We will benchmark a department that is among the top 20 in the world before we begin to upgrade a certain department.â€
He explained that upgrade programme was a response to the deluge of applications from persons seeking for the PTDF Overseas Scholarship Programme.
â€œBecause of the number of people asking us for scholarships, we developed a programme of upgrading of departments in universities that are relevant to the oil and gas industry,â€ Darma added.
He further explained that the fund had so far sponsored 157 persons to complete their Ph.D in top universities abroad while 895 persons have also been sponsored abroad to complete their Master’s programmes in oil and gas related disciplines.
The Executive Secretary also noted that the Federal Government had in 2006 approved $10m for the fund, which will enable it carry out training and certification programmes for graduate engineers so as to enable them fit into the oil and gas industry.
He, however, regretted that a good number of skilled personnel trained at huge expenses by the Fund in overseas institutions do not get employment upon return to Nigeria, adding that half of those who are currently working are engaged in jobs unrelated to their training.
Training each of the 895 M.SC scholars cost government 25,000 pounds while their Ph.D counterparts cost government 75,000 pounds each.
He added, â€œDue to the high demand for scholarship by many Nigerians in specialized oil and gas training, the Fund is working with some universities in the country who offer courses in petroleum development technology to upgrade their course to meet international standards to be able to accommodate a good number of these students.â€