You recently resumed duties in the university, what is your assessment of the situation on ground?
The institution, with all sense of responsibility, represents a tell-tale of disappointment. Yes, because it is unimaginable that the first specialised university of petroleum resources in Africa will suffer the gravity of neglect that I saw on resumption of duty at the university.
It is incredible that this specialised university has existed for over a decade now. Those critical stakeholders that should have been catalyst to the growth and development of the university have consistently ignored their responsibilities. That is the reason why I said in summary, the story of the university, is obviously a story of disappointed expectations.
That after 10 years of establishment, the university does not have a library; it does not have a single hostel project sponsored by either PTDF as a critical stakeholder, or TETFund, worse still the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), because I do know, coming from a university culture, that CBN has had special interventions in the high impact infrastructure areas in various universities. Sadly such high impact projects like hostels that I know CBN has built in other universities, have not reached here.
What do you think is responsible for this state of affairs?
The truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask and show the right commitment, you will not only not be given but will surely be ignored. The reach out ability of the university to say the least is very poor. If you want to be taken seriously, then you have to make a very strong case for what you are asking for, and at the end of the day you also have cause to justify it.
The non-passage of the law establishing the university after 10 years is also to be blamed. This is because under the law which established the university, there are special provisions for certain special funding coming from agencies like the PTDF, NDDC and possibly the multi-national oil companies.
Could the non utilisation of the oil sector be responsible for the low attention being paid the school?
I don’t think so. The university was originally conceived to provide specialised man-power for the energy and oil and gas sector in the country. But somehow, partly due to the factors I enumerated earlier, the movement towards the utilisation of the training platform provided by the university was stunted.
One of the failures of the university could allegedly be attributed to the inability of in the south-south region to realise that the university is their baby because every oil-producing state should have keyed into the development agenda of the university.
The worst scenario for me was the fact that no single project in that university was sponsored by any of the south-south states, and that is incredible.
What do you hope to achieve in the university then?
My immediate priority was to mobilise critical stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to see how they could come to our rescue with development or partnership packages that would take the university to the next level. I met the CBN governor twice and I discussed the prospects of the CBN bringing a special intervention project to the university. I am very optimistic that in the near future the CBN will site a special intervention project in the university.
Going further we have discussed with the management that we need to expand the academic brief of the university so that it incorporates global best practices as obtained in similar specialised universities all over the world.
I am an advocate of replicating what we have in Dundee University, Scotland, particularly, the Centre for Petroleum and Mineral Law Studies and Policy, in Effurun. We have no choice but to have a common front on this. It is so far so good in terms of the cooperation of the management.