By John Meze, Lagos
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has pledged to promote the development and commercialization of home-grown technology in collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). Delivering the Lead paper at the 47th Conference and Annual General Meeting of Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers in Port Harcourt, Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the effort would be driven by the Research and Development (R&D) arm of the Corporation.
Throwing more light on the plan, Dr. Baru said the collaborative effort with the NCDMB was already manifesting with the joint establishment of research clusters that will specialize in different areas of the oil and gas activities. The GMD declared that Nigeria was in dare need of urgently clawing back, from foreign yards, most fabrication works and other services in the industry to boost the contribution of the industry to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The new operating philosophy should lay emphasis on in-country manufacturing, job creation, skills development, technology development, capital retention, research and development and fostering sectorial linkages with other critical sectors of the economy in order to drive industrialization,’’ he said.
The theme of his paper at the occasion was Nigerian Content Development: Catalyst for Industrialization. The GMD revealed that the Corporation was currently in collaboration with NCDMB with a view to aligning the Nigerian Petroleum Exchange, NipeX portal and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Joint Qualification System, NOGICJQS portal, to adequately capture the capacity of local companies.
Dr. Baru called for a closer examination of the compliance level of the extant legislation and policy on Nigerian Content to evolve new models that would shape the policy and legislation on the subject in many areas. Some of the areas include: fiscal incentives to attract foreign direct investment, access to credit facilities among others. Highlight of the conference was the conferment of Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers on Dr. Baru. In a related development, the GMD NNPC has expressed the commitment of the Corporation to science education.
Dr Baru, who stated this during the grand finale of the Corporation’s 2017 National Quiz Competition at Abuja, recently, said the Corporation’s stand was informed by the critical role of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in the quest for nation building. “To ensure that best standards are maintained when it comes to the quality and integrity of the quiz competition, NNPC has also gone into partnership with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS), as well as the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN),” Dr. Baru stated.
At the end of the annual contest which began on Monday 13, November, Delta State carried the day with 75 points after breaking a tie with Abia State which came second with 70 points. Ondo State came third scoring 65 points. Dr. Baru disclosed that beginning from this year’s series, the Corporation would commence offering a one-off educational grant of N100, 000 each to all State winners of the competition, adding that a scholarship award of N300, 000 would be granted the overall winner per session, while the second and third place winners would receive a scholarship award of N250, 000 and N200, 000 respectively per session for the duration of their tertiary education.
“I am very happy to see that three of the contestants are female, contrary to the notion that science education is primarily for males. These three females battled with their counterparts and came out victorious. Despite this feat by the female contestants, I want to throw up a challenge to teachers and parents alike across the country: The girl child should be encouraged to excel in core science, technology and engineering subjects,” Dr. Baru enjoined.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, represented by the House Committee Chairman on Downstream, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja, applauded the NNPC for sustaining the programme in the past 17 years and for grooming the leaders of tomorrow through the Quiz Competition.
He stated that the House of Representatives stood with the contestants and the NNPC for the event which he described as epoch making event.
“Education makes the people to be easily governed, but makes it difficult to enslave them. I urge the students to remain focused and wish them all the best in the contest,” Hon. Dogara submitted.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, commended the management of the NNPC for sustaining the quiz competition in the last 17 years, noting that the Corporation has not only ensured the survival of the competition but has made it a pan-Nigerian contest.
“It is really a national event and has the characteristic of a football match in Nigeria whereby all sections of the country are represented. For instance Master Sunday Enokela that represented Sokoto State is not an indigene of the State but we are very proud of him and we came all the way to support him. So, I commend the initiative of the NNPC and I am very satisfied with the outcome and organization of the competition,’’ Gov. Tambuwal observed.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who also spoke at the event, congratulated NNPC for its support to the education of the youths in the country.
Mr. Obaseki stated that he was proud of the representative of his State, Master Hassan David, of Word of Faith Secondary School, Benin.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, congratulated the participants for excelling in their academics by emerging champions of their various states and zones and urged the Governors to continue to serve as fatherly figure to them by encouraging the contestants in their educational pursuit.
Dr. Kachikwu stated that the essence of the event in the lives of the contestants might not be apparent now, disclosing that in future, it would add up to their curriculum vitae.
Speaking in similar vein, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by the Director, Research and Planning of the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Chioma Nwadei, applauded the NNPC for promoting STEM education, stressing that the competition promised to put the country in a good stead among the comity of nations.
Other dignitaries who spoke at the event including the Head of WAEC, Nigeria, Mr. Olu Adenipekun and Registrar of National Examinations Council (NECO), Prof. Charles Uwakwe, commended and identified with the NNPC for promoting excellence amongst the youths, stressing that they are the leaders of tomorrow and that the investment in their education was in the right direction.
Mr. Adenipekun advised other corporate bodies to invest in the education of the youth in the country.
On his part, pioneer winner of the NNPC quiz competition, Mr. Sunday Aliu, applauded the NNPC for giving him the platform to excel in his educational pursuit, adding that the rare opportunity has made him to contribute to the Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) project which is the deepest offshore project in the country.
He encouraged the participants to take advantage of the exposure the quiz competition had afforded them, by excelling in their academics, describing himself as a testimony to the success of the Nigerian Content in the Oil and Gas Industry.
Mr. Aliu works with Total Upstream Nigeria Limited as Integrated Control and Safety Systems Engineer (ICSS).
In his victory speech, the overall winner of this year’s competition, Isioma Nelson Ifeanyichukwu, who is a student of the Federal Government College, Warri, thanked the NNPC for giving back to the society through its annual quiz competition, pledging that he would remain a good ambassador of the competition.
The 2017 edition is the sixteenth in the competition’s history. The first edition in 2000 was limited to the Niger Delta. However, in recognition of the strategic importance of the Quiz to NNPC Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals, the competition went nationwide in 2001.