THE proposed N19 billion Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, in Kaduna is a provocative waste. The Federal Governmentâ€™s silence to mounting opposition to its establishment is instructive, and may be an admission it is wrong. Silence remains inadequate reaction to this matter.
However, the mere thought of this project is offensive, with or without the type of opposition lined up against it. Who conceived this latter day wrong against the Niger Delta? Is this project part of the efforts to correct the injustices against the Niger Delta?
What would be the use of such an institute in Kaduna, more than 300 kilometres from the oil-bearing Niger Delta? Did anyone consider the cost of the students travelling from Kaduna to the Niger Delta to have first hand experience of oil and gas production, which neither takes place in Kaduna, nor in any area near it.
More importantly, it is outrightly insensitive and creates the impression that government does not care how people of the Niger Delta feel. The decision insults the people of the Niger Delta. It makes them realise again that government thinks they are unimportant, irrelevant and inconsequential.
Should we not build a new veterinary institute in Bomadi? Would it be out of place to establish a leather institute in Oloibiri? What are the historical, economic or academic antecedents of Kaduna in oil and gas production to merit the location of the PTI?
The oil museum proposed for Oloibiri, site of the first oil well in Nigeria, is still at foundation level, 28 years after the groundbreaking.
At times like these, when government is preaching to the people its interests in the improvement of the oil producing areas, the location of institutions of the PTI, should be one of the carrots that government dangles before the people.
Kaduna cannot be the location of the PTI. There is no good reason for this decision that dares the peoples of the Niger Delta to express their anger.
Government should not repeat the mistake it made with the location of a refinery in Kaduna, which from the beginning was uneconomical as it depended on crude oil (mostly imported), piped all the way from the sea to serve the refinery.
The PTI in Warri is almost comatose from years of unimproved facilities and sometimes near abandonment. For a fraction of the amount proposed for the new PTI, the one in Warri could have been upgraded to provide the services of a new school.
If there is need for another PTI, it should have been located within one of the universities in the oil producing areas (to save cost) and as a special school to meet the manpower needs of the industry.
The discontent this issue is breeding is capable of washing away the gains government has made from its amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta. Government should act in the national interest by cancelling the PTI in Kaduna, while ensuring the one in Warri works.