6 January, 2014, Abuja, Nigeria - Implementation of the partnership between the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) has successfully taken off as 60 Nigerian undergraduates offered scholarships under the aegis of the collaboration to study oil and gas-related courses at Ostfold University College in Fredrikstad departed Nigeria for Stavanger, Norway.
The 60 students comprising of 12 females and 48 males, who were selected from various secondary schools across the country, with 70 per cent of them chosen from the Niger Delta region, departed for Norway on January 6, 2014 to begin their studies.
At a departure ceremony organized for the students in Abuja, Nigeria on Saturday January 4, 2014, the Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Mr Oluwole Oluleye, represented by the General Manager (Administration and Human Resources) of the Fund, Balarabe Ahmad said the programme was part of the PTDF’s intervention efforts in the Niger Delta area and other parts of the country which it initiated in partnership with UNITAR to empower Nigerian youths.
While highlighting that the PTDF was noted for training people via local and overseas scholarship schemes at postgraduate levels, Mr Oluleye said that the Fund decided to extend the scheme to cover undergraduates to spread the benefits. He noted that the partnership with UNITAR would promote the gains of the initiative, in view of UNITAR’s experience in Oil & Gas technical training in the Niger Delta and employment generation for youths in oil producing communities in Nigeria through its various skills training.
“The Fund opined that it would also be beneficial to Nigeria if youths were given the opportunity to explore various undergraduate schemes under the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government. The Federal Government had designed various programmes to engage our youths in such a way that they will contribute meaningfully to national development, while steering them away from militancy and mischief,” he said.
Head/Resident Representative of UNITAR Nigeria office, Dr Larry Boms said the involvement of UNITAR is to shift emphasis from generic training whereby students are sent on training without clear engagement plans on graduation; a situation he said has been the bane of governance in Nigeria’s education sector. He stated that UNITAR will continue to support all concrete efforts to develop capacity for Nigeria’s oil industry, while also highlighting the need for oil producing companies to ensure commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility through employment of qualified youths in their operations.
The students thanked the Federal Government and UNITAR for their unbiased selection to participate in the scheme, promising to payback the good gesture by using the knowledge gained from the programme for the development of the country.
On April 19, 2013, PTDF and UNITAR entered into an agreement to implement a project entitled “Technical Training Programme and Manpower Capacity Building in the Oil and Gas Industry” to provide training, enhanced education, and job placement opportunities to beneficiaries of PTDF specialized skills development programmes in specific fields such as marine engineering, petroleum engineering, subsea engineering and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship engineering.