Despite odds FUPRE takes the lead in Africa, says Buhari
President Mohammadu Buhari has drummed support for the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun, calling on industry and private sector operators to assist the institution actualise its mandate.
Already, Buhari has directed the education minister, Adamu Adamu to look into the issue of non-release of the take-off grant to the university.
“We also appeal to the industry and the private sector operators to partner government in redeeming the education sector in Nigeria through funding support so as to create a functional tomorrow where our children are well developed to tackle our future challenges like their counterparts globally.”
“It is pertinent to note that the vision of government for the establishment of FUPRE was borne out of its desire to correct the anomalies in the oil and gas industry where Nigerians played a second fiddle in the superintendence of operations of the sector, decades after the discovery of the “black gold” and also, to assuage the yearnings of the region for increased government presence through the establishment of tertiary institutions.”
Buhari explained that the outcry against the criminal marginalisation of Nigerian citizens in the sector under the guise of the dearth of skilled expertise necessitated the formulation of strategic policy direction to mitigate the challenge. “Accordingly, FUPRE as a specialised university in petroleum education became a child of necessity as a platform for the firm establishment of a local content policy structure to bridge the yawning gap in the industry”.
Government is pleased to note that this policy is yielding positive results with the oil and gas Industry focusing on increasing indigenous participation in all facets of its operations. Government will not relent in initiating policies that will continue to encourage indigenous companies to have even greater part in developing local technologies and expertise to drive the Nigeria oil and gas assets.
He commended the people of the Niger Delta for their unflinching support to the Federal Government through the sustenance of peace in the region, saying this has tremendously encouraged smooth operations of industries in the oil and gas sector.
The president reminded that the Niger Delta region manifestly remains critical to advancing the destiny of this nation and assured that his administration would continuously recognise that altruistic position.
“Government will in appreciation not waver in its avowed commitment to transforming the region through strategic initiatives that would promote quality of life and accelerated development of the region.
President Buhari said his decision to assent to the FUPRE Establishment Act in October 2017 was borne out of his determination to make the country great in the oil and gas sector and give the university a greater latitude and impetus to excel.
He said, “We are elated that the university is gaining new heights under my watch, in tandem with its mandate to “offer courses of instructions, training and research in petroleum technology and allied areas, for the production of middle and high level manpower and other skilled personnel required to run the oil and gas industry in Nigeria in particular and the world at large.
Government notes with satisfaction that the university is dutifully and diligently fulfilling this tall order through her numerous giant strides and achievements in just a decade of its existence.
I congratulate the university in its efforts at the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and the various patent rights arising from research efforts by members of staff. As a government, we eagerly await the launch of FUPRE-made utility vehicle, the mini-refinery and other industry-based-problem-solving researches in the institution.
Buhari however challenged the institution to be a catalyst for greater innovation and a pacesetter for technological revolution in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
“Energy is critical to nation building and also a major challenge to our nation at this time. Nigeria has continued to be a net importer of refined petroleum products in addition to its poor levels of electricity generation. I task the university and other agencies to rise and surmount these daunting challenges through the establishment of modular refineries and sustainable power generation to take the country to the next level.
Pledging his administration’s resolve to adequately fund the institution so as to enable it deliver on its objectives, Buhari said government will provide the stimulant for the development of ideas, by making available, research grants and other facilities that will encourage research and development.
“Government is abreast of the challenges bedeviling the education sector and assure you of our commitment to address them. Having taken off the challenge of the establishment act, we are poised to implement every letter of the act to truly make FUPRE take her pride of place amongst global petroleum universities considering that this is the first in Africa and the sixth in the world.
He used the occasion to admonish university administrators to re-direct the focus of the curricula and researches to address pertinent national issues and entrepreneurial education, stressing that the time has come when societal needs should influence the direction of our educational pursuit.
Emir of Zamfara and the university chancellor, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad lauded the management for its doggedness in holding the ace, especially in breaking new grounds, for its focus and unwavering commitment in the pursuit of the mandate to make the university a true centre of global excellence.
He then advocated a continuous synergy with the Council to make quality policies that would facilitate development in the university.
Pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Shehu Abdullahi Zuru canvassed a funding policy that will propel actions and vision of the institution.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to implement all sections of the act both in capital project development and facilities, to make the university a global centre of excellence with capacity to attract the best of expertise.
In his lecture titled, “The role of petroleum university in bridging the gap between industry and the academia for sustainable growth and economic development”, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Dr Maikanti Baru said the academia has remained the most important environment where human advancement in science, engineering, law, business and management, among others, are promoted through research and training.
However, for effective transfer of knowledge and skills to occur, he said a sufficient and sustained collaboration between academia and the industry must evolve.
“Generally in Nigeria, collaboration between the academia and the industries is weak. The academia and the industry have maintained different perspectives and expectations, which often create a gap between the duo. This gap has been considered by many stakeholders as the reason for declining innovation, low productivity and poor economic growth.
“Productive collaboration between industries and academia would therefore require open and innovative strategies to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas, access to knowledge and industry best practices.”
According to the NNPC boss, world-class research universities look further ahead, invest more in designing partnerships that run longer to strengthen their competitiveness to industry collaboration while the smartest companies keep close ties with the academia and are the first in line to benefit from the good research and studies being churned out from the universities.
“Effective collaboration between the oil and gas industry and universities will be imperative in addressing funding issues associated with low crude oil price or production disruptions, which have led to budget cuts and downsizing of the number of the workforce or employees. Well-designed collaboration is therefore necessary to speedup economic recovery and competitiveness in the industry
Therefore, to strengthen academia-Industry interface, Baru said different types of collaboration and interactive initiatives need to be implemented, monitored on a regular basis and further scope of improvements must be identified and incorporated to build a fruitful and successful partnership.
He added that the challenge for FUPRE should not just be advancing these technologies in our nation but also collaborating with the Industry to expand local frontiers for the assembly and servicing of these equipment and provision of testing, measurement and calibration services.