By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Six universities from across the country have been given a total sum of N24 million financial support by Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL) as its University Partnering Programme (UPP) enters the third year.

The beneficiary universities include Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Delta State University, Abraka and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, University of Benin; University of Calabar and University of Ibadan.

The UPP  dates back to 2006 when EEPNL partnered Dr D. O. Lambert_Aikhionbare, an  expert in geology  to conduct a fact_finding survey in the Geosciences faculties of 12 Nigerian Universities. The six universities were selected based on need, curriculum, staff to student ration, among others.

The purpose was to recommend a programme that EEPNL, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and partner of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), could fund to enhance the quality of geosciences candidates graduating from the universities, and to determine which universities would be in the best position to partner with the company.

In return for the funding, the universities are to visibly increase the quality of their graduates and prepare a map of areas of the country close to them. The maps would be of high quality to be published by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA).

The N24 million field work logistics support, which covers students’ transportation, feeding and accommodation during the field mapping exercise, is part of the funding earmarked for the third year  of the pilot scheme.

During the course of the year, the universities will receive field allowance for supervising lecturers, 27 KVA diesel generators, 10 KVA inverter, digital cameras while provision of insurance cover has also been made for students and lecturers.

To enhance the quality of graduates produced by Nigerian Universities,  EEPNL, has donated a total sum of N24 million to six Nigerian universities.

According to Susan Eshett, EEPNL’s Major Projects Manager, “It is no secret that Universities lack the funds to facilitate proper knowledge transfer to students in areas such as mapping and geology; despite their willingness.

Inadequate exposure of students, as a result of lack of equipment and even personnel, results in what the outside world would refer to as half-baked graduates.

We believe the University Partnering Programme, which we have undertaken to fund, would empower benefitting students to contribute their quota and perform excellently in their area of endeavour, which is geological sciences” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiary universities, Idowu Olayinka, Head, Geology department, University of Ibadan, expressed their gratitude to Esso for its financial support. He also promised that the schools would strive very hard to meet the objectives of the programme.

Since the inception of the programme in 2007, with a standardisation workshop held in Benin City, Edo State, the programme has recorded several landmark achievements.

These include the purchase of field mapping equipment such as 60 global positioning systems; 360 geologic hammers, 42 Brunton compasses, 300 Silva compasses, 10 sledge hammers and 360 hand lenses.  The funding of the UPP has also enabled the purchase of six new mini-buses for the schools.

The UPP has further facilitated the publication of the book of proceedings of the standardisation workshop. The funding has further aided collaboration with the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency to map parts of the country while students have been trained by experts in the area of field mapping.

Specifically, students of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria produced an unedited draft map of Gombe as a result of their Geologic field mapping exercises.

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