The education sector has tremendous potentials to assisting Nigeria in achieving its quest for diversification of the nation’s economy away from high dependency on oil.
Quality research and development is one of the ways tertiary institutions, especially universities around the globe, often help in boosting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nations.
The public sector remains a major provider and financier of education in Nigeria since the federal government took over most of the schools in the country from primary to tertiary level in the mid-70s. In the pre-deregulation regime, higher education funding in Nigeria was done by government through public funding alone.
It is undoubtedly true that government alone cannot finance the requirement of the existing 43 federal-owned and 47 state-owned public universities as well as 75 private universities.
However, there are growing concerns from both experts and stakeholders in the education sector for more government funding to build critical infrastructure in public universities.
The benefits of increased funding for Nigerian universities are enormous. It will distinguish Nigerian universities on the road to world-class standards from those that will remain stuck in a rot and significantly improve the quality of research, provide top-notch learning and teaching environments and attract the best students and academics from the country and around the world.
One of such tertiary institutions in dire need of additional funding is the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun, located in the country’s oil rich region of Delta State, the petroleum belt. The University was established in 2007 under the federal government’s initiative to build a specialised university capable of producing unique middle and high-level manpower and relevant expertise for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and the world.
According to Professor Akpofure Rim-Rukeh who is Vice Chancellor of the institution, the core vision of the institution is to serve as the premier international organisation with state-of-the-art facilities providing for the petroleum and allied sectors, world-class education, training, research, consultancy and extension services. It is indeed the first petroleum university in Africa and sixth in the world.
This specialised university now has two colleges – science and engineering offering seventeen academic programmes to include, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, petrochemical engineering, petroleum engineering and natural gas engineering. Others are computer engineering, marine engineering, electrical engineering, environmental management and toxicology, chemistry, industrial chemistry, physics, geology, computer science, geophysics, statistics, and mathematics.
Interestingly, the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE) also has seven academic centres of excellence. These are the centre for corrosion research, integrated institute of environment and development, centre for safety education, centre for maritime and offshore studies, foundation programme, basic studies (pre-degree) programme, centre for vocational and entrepreneurial studies.
Fourteen years after its establishment, the university has made giant innovative strides such as the development of products with patent certifications. Among these products are the most energy efficient vehicles called -the FUPRE Delta Cruz and the FUPRE Ambassador which in 2016 and 2017 respectively won prizes in the Eco-Shell Marathon Race competitions.
There is also the Wicking Agent for crude oil absorption – a device that can be used to contain measures for crude oil spillage that is highly prevalent in the country’s oil region.
The Aerial Robotic Surveillance (AROSS) system is another product that could assist Nigeria tackle issues of oil spillage. This device is an automated drone programmed to provide continuous 24-hour automatic surveillance of land crude oil pipeline 100 metres in length.
Professor Rim-Rukeh explains that through painstaking research, the institution in 2019 developed and obtained patent certification of a Petroleum Product Volume Estimation, Adulteration and Tanker (PERVEAT) a portable electronic device that performs automatic portable volume measurement of any petroleum products in any vessel, tanker or tank whether calibrated or not.
Despite achieving many of these feats that can bolster the country’s economy, like any Nigerian tertiary institution, it is lacking proper funding. FUPRE is faced with near absence of power supply, insufficient infrastructural resources such as Lecture Theatres, Laboratories, Libraries, ICT and learning facilities that continue to hamper the university’s great vision.
The Act establishing the University clearly states that in the University, “We will receive oil and gas salary, but its implementation is an issue of concern. That aspect of the Act has not been implemented. There are bottlenecks, challenges and there are government persons who feel that what are they doing special? Is it not the same petroleum engineering that we are teaching in other universities? They have forgotten that our curriculum is not same as theirs,” Professor told journalists recently in Abuja.
Since adequate investment in oil and gas training is central to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, the governing council of the Federal University of Petroleum Effurun has decided to organise an education development roundtable to raise a renewed sense of obligation for strong partnership that will encourage private sector support for optimal delivery of its objectives. Many of the products developed by the institution are expected to be showcased at the event.
The goal of the roundtable with the theme – improved institutional donations and endowment: a positive step towards advancement in technology and sustainable development in education is to woo private sector investors and corporate organisation around the world for huge investment and support to the university. Apart from helping to build the needed infrastructure, the developed patent products will be mass produced for market use in both Nigeria and across the globe.
One of the effective ways which public tertiary institutions in advanced societies for instance have always attracted funds away from dependency on government subventions to finance their infrastructure needs is through philanthropic coordinated fundraising efforts, donations, and endowed scholarship support.