The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) has said that furnishing and equipping the 136 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres, built by the government and abandoned since 2006, would cost about N10.1 billion.
The Executive Secretary of the Fund, Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, who made this disclosure at the weekend in Bauchi, said furnishing and equipping the 136 centres would cost N6billion while the computers and vsat would amount to about N4.1billion.
Darma who was speaking with journalists at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University ICT centre, Bauchi, revealed that the centres were built by the Fund five years ago at over N12 billion, even as he added that of the number only nine were in use.
He explained that the project started in 2004 under government policy of ‘computer for all Nigerians’ initiative, noting that PTDF was charged with the responsibility of executing it because information and communication science was a vital science for petroleum and gas technology.
“PTDF was mandated by the federal government to establish ICT centres in some selected federal universities, unity schools, federal colleges of education as well as federal polytechnics, but five years on, most of the buildings are still abandoned,” Darma stated.
The PTDF boss who decried the situation, attributed it to government desire to seek private sector participation in furnishing, equipping and running the centres, a policy which has yielded no positive result since 2006.
He maintained that having spent public money in building the centres, it was wrong to allow them waste away. “This prompted us to make a case before the presidency last year, and early this year we got approval to equip and furnish the 136 centres,” Darma said. On the on-going welding training programme sponsored by the Fund at the university, Darma disclosed that 65 Nigerians were being trained to International Institute of Welding certification standard under the programme.
Possession of the certificate he said, would enable Nigerians work anywhere in the world, adding that the Nigerian welding sub-sector of the oil and gas industry which is presently dominated by Filipinos and Koreans would soon be a thing of the past.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, ATBU, Professor Mohammed Onongwu, who commended PTDF for selecting the university for the establishment of the ICT centre, as well as the welding training programme, noted that welding was very necessary in view of the facilities used in the oil and gas sector.
Onongwu stated that without good Nigerian welders the country would be unable to make internal advancement, and would have to continuously rely on foreigners.
In a related development, the Fund has also expressed the need for research findings of Nigerian universities to be translated into commercial ventures.
Speaking at the University of Jos, Plateau State, while presenting a set of books purchased by the fund to the department of Geology Mining, Darma urged universities to ensure that they produce well laid out researches which could be translated into viable commercial ventures in partnership with the private sector.
Receiving the books, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, university of Jos, Professor Benjamin Ugwu, while expressing gratitude to PTDF for the books and other facilities provided for the institution, stated that the school would intensify effort in the search of oil in the Benue Trough.