The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) was established by Degree 25 0f 1973 solely for, â€œthe purpose of development, promotion and implementation of petroleum technology and manpower development through research and training of Nigerians as 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 abroadâ€.
The current Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, (mnse, mnim.) 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.
In this exclusive interview with Sweet crude, he spoke to Luka Binniyat, with passion on the determination of the Fund under his leadership to meet the mandate of the Fund
What has your experience been like since you became the Executive Secretary of the PTDF?
I have had a tremendous experience. I have learnt very much. The experience I have had on this seat in the past one and half years, is more than the working experience I have had in the past twenty years. My experience has been very profound.
What do you consider as your most tasking challenge?
Believe me theÂ greatest difficulty and challenge that disturbs me so much, is finding jobs for my graduates
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 for.
How many graduates has the Scheme produce so far?
With our current intake, we would have 1700 of them
Of this number, how many have had jobs since graduation?
That is the challenge I am telling you about. Our job here is to train them; give them the best training the industry can offer, after that, the law setting us up does not give us room to interfere with their lives. But I know that most of them are yet to find placement in the industry.
But, I understand that the Petroleum Industry Bill, when passed would take care of that problem, Because the Local Content problem is sufficiently taken care of in the PIB and I am welcome that very much. But, before it becomes a law, the NNPC is doing something about it. The NPPC is making an intervention. As you know, the Corporation is a also the regulator of the industry, so lets wait and see,
The Overseas Scholarship Scheme is considered your flagship project. But, besides that you have other project in the country. How are these projects going?
We have several other project across the country.
And we have been monitoring them closely. We intervene whenever we are not satisfied
The restiveness in the Niger Delta had stalled some of your projects in the region. Now that an amnesty has been granted to the those causing the problem and peace has returned, how has that imparted on the Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, in Ekowe, Bayelsa State?
Yes, I am happy that peace has return to the Niger Delta due to the wisdom that the federal government handled the crisis. And I want to tell you that the contractor handling the project has mobilised to site. I have fully briefed the Acting President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck about it. He is very enthusiastic about it, and he has told me, that he would be very willing to lay the foundation stone of the project.
How did the School come about?
The school came to being sequel to a stakeholders’ forum on the Niger Delta in 2006, in which the Fund was mandated to intervene in the provision of necessary infrastructural facilities for the institution.
PTDF thereafter in 2007, commenced the first phase of the development with the award of 18 contracts. The contract wereÂ for the construction of new department buildings, lecture halls, laboratory, workshop, hostels, library, administration blocks and auxiliary facilities, and the rehabilitation of some existing structures
That has been quite some times why has â€¦?
Unfortunately, although the contracts had delivery periods of between 16 and 30 weeks, 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. ButÂ 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 settledÂ all disputes arising from the revocationsÂ to pave way for the restructuring of the project implementation strategy.
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 servicesÂ for another N2.1 billion. That was the N14.1 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
If things should go smoothly, when do we expect that school to be commissioned for use?
If things go as expected, I want to assure you that in the next One and Half year, we should have a fully functional Federal polytechnic of Oil and Gas in Ekowe
Look, we are not just building a Polytechnic, we building the only Oil and Gas polytechnic in the West African Region. And we are deliberately setting out to make it stand at par with the best in the world.
But, don’t forget that the Poly is already existing. Yes, it is existing, but more like a makeshift school in Yenogoa. It has a Rector, a full Board and its academia. What we are building is its permanent site, that would be befitting of its status.
There was so much hullabaloo last year over allegations that the University of Petroleum Studies Uffuru, Delta state, would be moved to Kaduna. You have since corrected that misconception. What is going on at the place now?
Just as you have said, some people were just out to spread mischief that Government was relocating the School to Kaduna. That cannot be! But, you see, even after the Rector of the School and I had a joint press conference, and the head of the school personally affirmed that that rumour was a lie, some people still disregard our clarification and chose to believe what is not true.
The truth is that, no one can remove that university there to Kaduna.
They all have different roles, different goals and targets.
The one we have in Kaduna is the Cente of Petroleum Studies , Kaduna, (CPSK).
That School was established in 1995 by the NNPC to train Managerial cadre of staff of the Corporation. It is not a new School. But the PTDF survey has shown that millions of dollars are spent each year by the industry to train this level of manpower abroad. So, what we are doing now, is to expand the school, upgrade it and make the best in the entire sub-Sahara Africa. It would not only be for NNPC staff, but for all the oil and gas sector in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
We are going to put in first class facility and bring such competent academic and non academic staff, that CPSK would rank among the best in the world.
This is an investment for Nigeria, because all the money that would have been used to train this cadre would now be domiciled in Nigeria.
And to show the resolve of the PTDF at insisting on the best, we have to intervene in the work going on there recently. It is N14 billion project covering about 90Â hectares of land with a completion period of 12 months. We had no choice than to issue a stop-work-order on some contractors who were between 4 and 12 weeks behind the target completion period.
We are determined to make CPSK, the best of its kind.
What about the University?
Now, the University of Petroleum Resources, Uffurun, in which some people planted a rumour that it would be relocated to Kaduna.
That University is intact at Effurun, near Warri. That School was established and approved by the Federal Executive Council meeting of 14 March, 2007. It is now in session. The University, again, is another first in this sub-region when it comes to the training of senior technical manpower for the oil and gas sector.
Nigeria is not only our target, but in fact, the entire world.
And it cannot meet that standard without putting state-of-the-art facilities and employ some of the best brains the sector has to offer. So we are building the permanent site of the School to meet that standard.
We believe that as the leading oil and gas nation in Africa, and one of the leading oil and gas endowed nation on earth, we should lead the way when it comes to manpower development. And in the next few years, we hope to see the product of these schools go abroad as expatriates of world class standard. We are not aiming at anything below that.
Has emphasis then shifted from the Petroleum Training Institute, (PTI) Effurun?
No, notÂ at all. The PTI is extremely important.
The School was established by the Federal Government in 1973 to train Indigenous middle level Technical Manpower to meet the labour force demand of the Oil & Gas Industry in Nigeria and the West African Sub-Region..
And you know the middle, technical manpower cadre is what drives the industry. It has proven to be indeed a very wise idea to establish the PTI at that time.
This PTIÂ offers training in welding, oil & gas processing, offshore technology and sundry courses.
So, what we are now doing at the PTIÂ is toÂ upgradeÂ the facilities in the placeÂ toÂ Centre of Excellence in the West African region.
The PTDF is also into ICT provision for schools, how have been monitoring this project?
We believe that modern technology is ICT driven. The PTDF has made intensive investments in this area. We are providing some Secondary and tertiary schools with computer laboratories, as means exposing them to all the modern techniques of designs, research, and other e-based skills.
What other new projects are you undertaking now?
We are not embarking on any new projects now. In fact, for the next three years, we will not execute any new projects. We have given the acting President the scope of work on ground, and he has approved that we finish the existing project first. So, in the next three year, we will have no new projects.
Under the PTDF act, all money realised from sales of oil blocks goes to the PDTF. Looking back at the number of oil acreages sold in the past 10 years, how much is in the coffer of the PTDF today?