PTDF pledges commitment to varsity upgrade


• UNILAG to commence graduate programme in petroleum engineering

IN line with the transformation agenda of the Federal Government in area of effective teaching and learning of oil and gas courses, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) has reiterated its commitment to ensure a good number of Nigerian universities are upgraded to international standard.

  Speaking shortly after a tour of facility at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Executive Secretary of the Fund, Mr. Olufemi Ajayi, who led the PTDF inspection team, informed that in an effort to achieve the mandate of the Fund in the area of capacity building, the agency has embarked on human capacity building through institutional upgrade.

  The Fund had in 2013 built and handed over a well-equipped structure and facilities worth N800 million to the Chemical Department of UNILAG to enhance teaching and learning and ensure students in Nigerian universities received world-class training in the oil and gas sector.

  The recent visit was to inspect and see if the facilities are being used to achieve the purpose of the Fund.

  According to Ajayi: “The essence of the upgrade is to make the Nigerian universities competitive by providing world class facilities comparable to any tertiary institution anywhere in the world. We also want to multiply the number of professionals in the oil and gas sector through the upscaling of Nigerian institutions. So far, these facilities at UNILAG had been replicated in 25 other universities across the country, and we will continue to deliver more.”

  “From experience, what we have here is just almost as much as what we have in some of the universities in United Kingdom (UK) and in United States (U.S.) that I have visited, in terms of facilities. If what we have seen here is what is happening in 25 others, it means that PTDF, by extension of the Federal Government, is moving in the right direction.”

  He continued: “If oil and gas is the main thing of our economy, if we are investing in chemical and petroleum engineering departments, we are just putting our money where our mouth is. We are doing what we supposed to be doing. Rather than send students abroad, the training can be done within the shores of Nigeria and students would be able to study in universities here and get the same experience and quality of training.”

  Ajayi said that the structures had been put in place to achieve the dream of the President, which is to ensure that Nigeria is one of the 20 most-advanced countries in the world. 

  “At the end of the day, capacity-building is the first step for any sustainable industrialisation. If you don’t have manpower, you are just paying lip service to industrialization. As it is, we have taken the first step through the empowerment of all these 26 universities and many more to benefit.

  “If all these universities are making active and gainful use of the facilities, you can imagine the spillover effect in the next few years. With this empowerment, the universities will perform maximally in the mandate they have been given in the area of teaching, research and community service.

  “Again, as an agency of government, we have a mandate to increase local content by way of the number of professionals who are involved in production and manufacturing, by way of trying to encourage the development of local raw materials. So, whatever we produce here in Nigeria, the value that would be added would at least be up to 60 per cent. 

  “We want the raw materials to be sourced from our environment, not entirely foreign made. If we have very virile and effective chemical engineering department in our universities, to produce quality graduates, meaningfully engage in research, when any oil company has challenges, it will be referred to address such challenges rather than going to foreign countries for solution. Our institutions should be able to address some of those challenges and solve problems that are peculiar to our environment, that is the main objective of this university upgrade.”

  Meanwhile, Head, Department of Chemical Engineering, Prof. Adetokunbo Denloye, had announced the willingness of the department to commence graduate courses in Petroleum Engineering. 

  Denloye, who commended the Fund for its intervention, said with the support of the Fund, all is set for the take-off except for the manpower, which the university is working diligently to achieve.

  According to him: “We intend to commence master’s and doctorate programmes in Petroleum Engineering and we require manpower in that department since we have enough members of staff for chemical engineering. We want to encourage our students to come on board. We are in the process of recruiting more members of staff, especially at the higher level, so that we can have someone who can provide academic leadership in the department. 

  “We are currently in the process. The position has been advertised and right now, we are in the review process and hopefully, before the end of this year, we should be through with that. We intend to attract the best students and encourage them to do the master programme and then Ph.D.”, he said.

  On the relevance of the course to national growth, he said: “Chemical Engineering is key, the nation depends mainly on sale of crude oil, what we have not done is to really exploit all the things that come from crude and that is the area which chemical engineering is so versatile. They add value to crude products. If we have a virile petrochemical industry, it will be yielding significant revenue to the country.”

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