By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA THE PetroleumÂ Technology Development Fund, has said it plans to adopt the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), Delta State , and the College of Petroleum Studies in the University of Port Harcourt , for training of beneficiaries of its Overseas Scholarship Scheme.
The Executive Secretary of the Fund, Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, disclosed this on Friday when he hosted the Vice Chancellor of FUPRE, Professor Babatunde Alabi, and his team, in Abuja .
Meanwhile the Vice Chancellor of FUPRE, has attempted to douse the controversy over the location of the university by insisting that the institution remains at Effurun, Warri, Delta State .
According to him, â€œI wish to confirm that the university is still in place in Effurun, Delta State , with the full complement of its teaching staff, students and the governing council.â€
Alabi explained that university was a unique institution specially set up for the training of students in petroleum industry_related technology.
â€œThe university is uniquely designed for this purpose and will not admit more than 500 students at any given time. It is designed for employers of labour in the oil and gas industry to come in and recruit the best students in the sector,â€ he noted.
Darma assured that PTDF was ready to partner FUTRE in its quest for developing excellent graduates for Nigeria â€™s oil and gas industry.
He said, â€œOur mandate in the PTDF is to develop excellent indigenous manpower and technology transfer acquisition in the petroleum industry. And we are committed to the development of the institution of technology at FUPRE for training of Nigerians in the oil and gas industry.â€
He noted that with the growing popularity of the Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS) managed by the Fund, there was need to develop local institutions benchmarked on international best practices to offer quality training to Nigerians.
He further noted that the resources used by the Fund for training students in masters and doctorate programmes abroad is regulated by statute, and in the last two or three years, the Fund has not got much funding in this direction, making it unsustainable to continue to sponsor people overseas.
He said, â€œWe cannot develop the capacity of Nigerians without first developing the capacity of the institutions where the students would be trained. Over the next five years, we may have over 10,000 applications for the OSS .
â€œThere is, therefore, need to redirect our overseas scholarship programmes, especially for students going for their masters, and apply most of the resources in the development of our local infrastructure and institutions.â€
The focus of the PTDF, he added, was to adopt two institutions, namely the FUPRE and the College of Petroleum Studies in the University of Port Harcourt for the training and development of excellent graduates for the oil and gas industry.
â€œWe are not considering only the physical and structural upgrade, but also the human capacity development for various staff of these institutions. What we want to do is to increase the number of competent and skilled personnel for the industry,â€ he added.
According to Darma, the government is conscious of the need to â€œpopulate the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and Africa by Nigerians whose proficiency and quality are not in doubt.â€
He regretted that so far the Fund has not been able to check the defection of beneficiaries of the OSS who stay back to work in foreign countries instead of coming back to apply their knowledge and expertise.
He said, â€œIt is unfortunate because we do not have any form of bonding agreement with the students before they travel. But the good side is that no matter what you spend on education, it is never wasted. These scholars still contribute in some ways to their relatives back home.â€
Darma pointed out that the oil and gas industry is very dynamic, adding that no country in the world had enough personnel to man their oil and gas industry.
He said, â€œCome next month, we plan to embark on a tour of the companies and regulatory agencies in the country to get their commitment for the training of more Nigerians in the oil and gas sector to keep us ahead of competition in the global industry.â€