By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Federal Government is exploring the possibility of upgrading the National Technical Institute, Bonny, Rivers State into a full fledged Federal Polytechnic specialising in Gas Technologies, alternative energy technologies, and Environmental Sciences.
The Institute was conceived by the Rivers State Government in 2000 to serve as a feeder institution to the Liquefied National Gas Project in terms of manpower training and development. The foundation stone of the project was therefore laid to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Liquefied Natural Gas Project with the intention that trainees of the Institute will feed the manpower requirement of the newly built LNG project.
The Institution was handed over to Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to complete in 2006 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the last four years since the Fund took over the project, construction on the first phase of the Institute have been completed and the components include the administrative building, auditorium, hostel buildings, lecture theatres, class rooms, research block, work shop and laboratory buildings, clinic, canteen and library buildings.
At a recent inspection visit of the project site in Bonny by the Executive Secretary, PTDF, Engr. Darma and the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Engr. Tele Ikum, the State Government saw the need to expand the land area of the project location and ordered that all adjoining buildings should give way for the expansion of the Institute.
The Executive Secretary PTDF Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, ordered the revocation of an uncompleted hostel block out of the five planned for the Institute, as the contractor was not making significant progress. The other four have however been completed.
On its part, the Rivers State Government insisted that apart from the University of Port-Harcourt, there is no other Federal Government presence in the State and so does not see the reason why the institute should not be run and managed by the Federal Government for the benefit of the State.
Faced by this development, His Excellency,Â the Vice-President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo directed the Executive Secretary of PTDF to meet with the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education(NBTE) and explore the possibility of making the National Technical Institute not only a Federal Institution but to establish a framework for transforming it into a Federal Polytechnic with NBTE guiding the process.
At a meeting of the two chief Executives at the PTDF conference room, Abuja, the Acting Executive Secretary of NBTE, Arc. Ade Ojo Aimola welcomed the idea of partnering with the Fund to ensure the realisation of government objective in setting up the institute.
He said Bonny has always been considered for the establishment of a Federal Polytechnic and now that a facility is being developed for a technical institute, it will make it easier for that dream to be realised.
The NBTE Executive Secretary said to give effect to the upgrade, there is a necessity for a joint inspection of the present NTI by PTDF and NBTE to ascertain if the land mass meets the minimum specification for a polytechnic.
The law guiding the regulation of polytechnics in Nigeria, the polytechnics Act, prescribes that a polytechnic must have a minimum physical land area of 50 hectares.
If however the land area is not up to the required minimum it can still be developed as a multi campus structure or be upgraded to a Federal Technical College. Other requirements he said include a presidential directive to the Hon.
Minister of Education to set in motion the process. NBTE he said will provide technical support to facilitate the transformation of NTI to a Federal Polytechnic.
Teams from both the PTDF and NBTE were constituted for the on-site inspection of the National Technical Institute. PTDF team is led by the Assistant General Manager Legal while that of NBTE is led by the Director of Planning.