The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has urged the Federal Government and the National Assembly to make adequate provisions for the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE) in this year's budget.Chairman of NUPENG, FUPRE Branch, Owhofaraye Victor, gave the charge after its congress meeting in Effurun, Delta State. He praised the National Assembly for passing the Bill and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the bill establishing the university into law.
He said: "Nigeria operates on a mono-product economy but experts have been campaigning that the country must advance innovative research to improve local contents and human capital in the oil and gas industry. "In spite of the huge investment in trying to refurbish and setup new refineries and efforts to reform the oil sector through the unbundling of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) for greater flexibility that led to the splitting of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has not shown significant improvement."
He, therefore, said the solution to the challenge was the proper implementation of the FUPRE Act that grants it the core mandate to train skilled indigenous manpower, as well as develop other capacities for the oil and gas industry.This, he argued, will ensure that the country's national and approved modular refineries are functional and well maintained to boost the economy and stop the perennial fuel scarcity.
Speaking further, he noted that Local Content Bill in the oil and gas sector, which was targeted at catering to a greater synergy between the nation's economy and foreign investors, which tries enhance the provision of on-demand workforce to ensure productivity of her upstream sector, has also shown no significant improvement.
To that extent, over 70 per cent of the work value in the oil and gas sector, is still done abroad and executed through expatriates such that even at home, the management and senior capacity in the upstream sector is still allocated to expatriates.
This situation, he noted renders the Local Content Act, void, obsolete and of no effect. The union posited that human resource development, manpower-capacity building, cross-cutting and cutting researches should form the major plank of the reforms in the oil and gas sector if the country desired to make meaningful progress and achieve positive growth.
"We can also all agree that this culminated in the establishment of FUPRE), which the Federal Government has positioned to train middle-and top-level manpower for the sector.
"The institution is prepared to achieve the set goals and vision at all level. But its realisation requires a corresponding funding that will motivate and drive the institution towards the creation of newer, safer and sustainable solutions.
"This will in turn help the country to resolve most of the challenges and pending problems in the oil and gas sector with a view to reversing the current status so that Nigeria can refine its crude oil in the country, as well as export the resource to generate more funds," it added.