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PTDF and attempts at building a hydrocarbons manpower pool

Yemie Adeoye and Luka Binniyat

Most watchers of Nigerian hydrocarbon sector are surprised that the PTDF, could ever shake-off its robe of blistering financial scandal amidst high-wire political intrigues few years back. The peace at the PTDF today has generated curiosity for Sweet crude, as we try to find out what has been happening at the Fund before and after the “dark” days.

The PTDF today is being run by an Executive Secretary in the person of Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma and his management team. He was appointed on November 18th, 2008.

The Kastina State born Darma, holds Master of Engineering (production); Master of Business Administration (Management), after acquiring a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical).

He has served variously as Hon. Commissioner of works, Housing and transport; Rural, Social development, Youth and Sports; and Rural, Social Development, Women Affairs, Youth and Sports in the Katsina State Government between August 2003 and May 2007. He also taught Mechanical Engineering in the Polytechnic and the University.

His professional affiliations include the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institute of Management and Renewable and alternative Energy Network.

For 27 years, the PTDF occupied just a table somewhere in the Petroleum Ministry, and was obscure, irrelevant and unheard of.

Yet, based on decree Degree 25 of 1973, which created it, the PTDF was to be the manpower base of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Between 1973 and 2002, its relevance of, “developing, promoting and implementation of petroleum technology, manpower development through research and training of Nigerian graduates, professionals, technicians and craftsmen in the fields of engineering, geology, geosciences, management, economics and relevant fields in the petroleum and solid minerals industry in Nigeria or abroad”, was ignored.

But, by 2002, the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, pressed by the clamour for more local participation of Nigerians in all aspects of the oil and gas dealings, decided to strengthen the Fund.

An entire administrative structure was thus set up, and the Fund was run with the Signature Bonuses of all the oil acreages sold at that time.

Unfortunately, soon after, scathing allegations of mismanagement and outright theft of the Fund money under the pioneer Executive Sectary of the Fund, and his successor was to put the PTDF into national and international embarrassment.

The matter pitched then President Obasanjo against the Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Aitku, but the sordid details are not the intent of this survey.

The aim of this article is to see how far the Fund has discharged its duties since then, and especially under its present administration, which looked stable and focused, even amidst the few challenges it is facing.

Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS)

The Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS), is the Fund’s flagship programme. It is designed to meet the long-term capacity requirements of the oil and gas industry through training of young Nigerians in related fields of Engineering, Geological Sciences, Environmental and Energy Studies both at the master’s and doctoral levels.

Over 11, 000 applications were received for the 2010/2011 Overseas Scholarship. About 6, 000 were invited for aptitude test while about 500 will actually receive the award. The Operational Innovations for the OSS 2010 Implementation are as follows:

So far, a total number of 1, 585 MSc and 195 PhD scholars have benefited from the Overseas Scholarship Scheme.

Local Scholarship Scheme

The PTDF Local Scholarship Scheme (LSS) which commenced from the 2007/2008 academic year, was conceived to drive direct and maximum benefit from the Universities Upgrade and Endowment Programmes of the fund. There is, the Undergraduate Component, and the Postgraduate Component to it.. For the undergraduate component, the target beneficiaries are students at the 200 level with outstanding grades in the departments of environmental studies, civil, Chemical, Electrical/Electronics, Mechanical, Industrial, Petroleum and Gas Engineering studies as well as departments in Chemistry, Geology, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics.

Upgrade of Educational Institutions:

PTI: Some of the project for the upgrade of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Efuru, include both its curriculum and infrastructure.

The infrastructural upgrade includes construction of new buildings, procurement of workshops/laboratory equipments, renovation of existing structures and improvement of the electrical system is presently on-going.

PTDF is also carrying out extensive upgrade of the educational curricula, staff development, organization and systems development.

It could be recalled that the Petroleum Training Institute Efurun, Delta State was established to train indigenous middle and low level manpower for the oil and gas industry.

CPSK: Work at the College of Petroleum Studies Kaduna (CPSK), build by the NNPC in 1995 on a 90 hectares expanse of land in KAduna, is progressing satisfactorily. When completed, the school will eliminate the capital flight arising from the training of senior technical and management staff of the entire oil and gas industry in Nigeria yearly.

The work, according the PTDF, is a N14 billion project, aimed at making the CSPSK, one of the best in the world. It will be to the oil and gas sector what the Nigerian Institute for policy and strategic studies represents in the public service and what Defense College is to the Military.

NTI: The project at the National Technical Institute, Bonny, Rivers is mainly infrastructural development. It includes construction of new hostels, classrooms, laboratories, workshops and provision of water and electricity facilities. Works are on-going and the first Phase is expected to be completed this year. Arrangements have also reached advanced stage for the commencement of the second phase of the project.

FPOG: The Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas Project at Ekowe, Bayelsa State, suffered a lot of setback as a result of the Niger Delta uprising, which came to an end last year. According to Engr. Darma, the contracts had delivery periods of between 16 and 30 weeks, but that execution of most of the project lots had not progressed beyond 2% to 20% in November, 2008, mostly for the problems related to the Niger Delta issue. But, in March 2009, the Fund revoked the non-performing contracts in the first phase of the development of the School, while the contractors were compelled to make some refunds to the Fund.

“We later settled all disputes arising from the revocations to pave way for the restructuring of the project implementation strategy”, he told sweet crude.

In this regard, PTDF has consolidated the uncompleted projects in the first phase with additional works into the second and final phase of the development of the polytechnic into a world class facility for the first class training of students in oil and gas related disciplines

The contract for the second phase had been grouped into three. These are general building works that would gulp N7.5 billion; civil works and that would cost N5 billion and electrical and mechanical services for another N2.1 billion.

And you know that all this is line with the decision by the Federal Executive Council to begin massive infrastructural development of the Niger Delta region as a consequence of the post amnesty implementation programme

Components include construction of laboratories/workshops, administrative buildings, classrooms, seminar halls, student hostels, electrical/water facilities and renovation of existing buildings. Arrangements have also reached advanced stage for the commencement of the second phase of the project

Select 16 Universities:

Select 16 Nigerian Universities are beneficiaries of the PTDF as most of their Engineering Departments are enjoying start-of-the-arts training facilities installed by the Fund.

These include construction of Departmental Building, procurement of laboratory and workshop equipment, provision of books and journals, provision of IT Hardware/Software, Electricity and water facilities

Within the year 2009 eight (8) Universities were completed under the Phase II project, while, the selection of Universities for Phase III of the project has been concluded.

ICT PROJECTS

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) is common to all fields of specialization in the Oil and Gas industry, from Geosciences to Drilling Engineering and Petroleum Economics. Towards this end, the Fund in line with its mandate commenced the development of ICT Centres in 24 Universities, 20 Federal Colleges of Education and 102 Unity Schools spread across the Country.

The centre will comprise of an ICT building equipped with computer workstations, a server room, independent power supply, VSAT and air conditioning facilities.

Other areas:

Sweet crude found out that PTDF is also investing heavily in the areas of: Engineering Design Training Programme (EDTP); Seismic Interpretation Software Training For University Lecturers and Universities Endowment Programme.

And the Fund is also into helping small players in the industry too.

For example, the Welders Training and Certification Programme (WTCP) is designed to train 2500 welders between 2nd and 4th quarters of 2009.

Due to inadequate manpower in-country to prosecute the WTCP up to international certification level, a train the trainer programme was conceived out of the WTCP aimed to train 30 welders to international certification in various programmes such as International Welding Practitioner (IWP), International Welding Specialist (IWS), etc.

But, Engr. Darma is not all happy about the Fund. In an exclusive chat with Sweet crude recently, he said that the main challenge of the Fund is finding jobs for its graduates.

“Believe me the greatest difficulty and challenge that disturbs me so much, is finding jobs for my graduates”, he had said

“Imagine spending so much money on young men and women to acquire the best skills in some of the best schools in the United Kingdom, just for them to return and cannot find jobs.

“And I know that the jobs are there in the industry. And yet you cannot do anything about it. That is one big challenge that I am tirelessly looking for a solution to?” he had lamented.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.