Warri — President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked specialised universities, particularly the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun, to rise up to the challenges of establishment of modular refineries and sustainable power generation in the country.
The president said this at the weekend, during the second convocation ceremony of FUPRE in Delta State.
He said the federal government was not oblivious of the fact that the oil and gas industry was highly technical and capital intensive in its operations and promised to create the enabling environment to encourage innovation and ingenious solutions to the nation's critical challenges in that sector.
"Government will provide the necessary stimulant for the development of ideas, by making available research grants and other facilities that will encourage research and development," he assured.
President Buhari, who was represented by Professor Anthony Anka, noted that 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 said.
The president expressed satisfaction that the university was gaining new heights under his 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."
He added: "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 challenge the university to be a catalyst for greater innovation and pace setter for technological revolution in Nigeria oil and gas industry. No doubt, energy is critical to nation building and also a major challenge to our nation 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 establishment of modular refineries and sustainable power generation to take the country to the next level."
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of FUPRE, Prof. A. O. Akii Ibhadode, reeled out the achievements of the university in areas of accreditation of academic courses, infrastructure development, power project, grants and researches, patents, creation of new centres and others.
Ibhadode, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Prekeyi Tawari-Fufeyin, however attributed lack of funds and particularly non-provision of take-off grant at inception, as slowing down the development of the university.
The Pro-Chancellor and chairman, Governing Council of FUPRE, Prof. Shehu Abdullahi, commended President Buhari for signing the FUPRE Act and appealed to the federal government to take steps in implementing all sections of the Act both in capital project development, facilities and staff welfare to make the school a global centre of excellence with capacity to attract the best expertise.
"It may be a worthwhile idea to declare a state of emergency in all facets of the development of this university. We strongly appeal to NNPC, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, the PTDF and other stakeholders to support the development and growth of the university," he pleaded.