Nigeria’s oil industry has been the appanage of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) since IOCs were dictating the pace of exploration due to technical capabilities which put them at advantage compared to their indigenous counterparts.
However, the promulgation of Local Content Act brought ray of hope to local indigenous operators hence the need to sustain the momentum through quality education. The Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN), had its first National Education Summit in Lagos.
In his good will message delivered at the Summit, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, made it known that the essential and critical skills necessary for every labour market, which includes engineers, technicians, doctors, entrepreneurs and all walk of life are provided by the academia. He stated further that the academia facilitates the transfer of research results in every skills that requires significant quantum of sustained investments.
The GMD explained that the Nigerian academia are faced with the monstrous task of investment to enable them access to sustainable resources such as equipment, infrastructures research and development. Baru reiterated that the academia has enhanced training and professional development as well. He noted that oil and gas industry can offer a route to maximize the use of innovative ideas of the academia through transfer of technology which has augment the required investment support of the academia. He submitted that in developing countries, the approach to collaboration between the academia and the oil and gas industry yields different expectations. Academia is interested in creating news solutions with high level of innovation, whereas oil and gas industry prefers proven solutions with calculated risks. In his words “Academia is striving for peer’s recognition, whereas the oil and gas industry is striving to remain competitive. Academia search for solutions to maximize their recognition, whereas oil and gas industry seeks solutions to maximize their risks.”
Baru expressed concern that Nigerian academia and the oil and gas industry are increasingly finding it mutually beneficial to collaborate, but there is still a lot to be achieved. He advocates that there is need for Nigerian academia to adjust their system and give credence to research and innovation so as to attract investment of the oil and gas industry cannot be over-emphasized.
The NNPC helmsman disclosed that there exist collaborations between gas giant NLNG, Shell and the IOCs with Nigerian universities which giving support to the academic environment. These collaborations have yielded positive fruits for all parties involved. For instance the GMD reveals that the collaboration between academia and industry had defined effective curriculum to enhance job placements. Industries that work with the academia on collaborative research remain at cutting edge of scientific development and find ways to overcome limitations of internal research and development.
He believed that “Collaborative research between the academia and industry will create effective platform for mixing industrial challenge resolution with academic knowledge thus facilitating the production of new knowledge that has commercial benefits for both parties.” He added that “A well-developed connection and effective communication with the industry will contribute to research concept that the academia must prioritize in order to keep pace with the changing environment.”
Besides, Baru hoped that collaboration between the academia and oil and gas industry would create a palliative to the impediment of investment in the academia by providing the needed sustainable resources which will ease the academia’s reliance on government funding, “As a matter of necessity, the academia should encourage multi-disciplinary research projects in order to attract investors.” He advised the industry that there is need for them to develop a coherent framework to address collaboration stumbling blocks, which in the long run will attract the oil and gas industry.
The NNPC GMD pointed out that the corporation has embarked on effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in the education sector. It has promoted the NNPC Annual National Quiz Competition. The study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is a fulcrum of the corporation’s efforts to participate in the nation-building process due to the key roles these fields of learning play in the growth and stability of the Nigerian economy. According to him, “This competition was transformed into a nationwide exercise in 2011 in recognition of the strategic importance to actualization of NNPC’s objectives.” Baru is of the view that that the corporation role in supporting the local content development goals of the Federal Government will enhance the oil and gas industry. “The competition has lived up to expectation with respect to its mandate, having been impacting positively on the intellectual attainment of young Nigerians nationwide, preaching them for taking over the mantle of leadership of this great country,” Baru explains.
Baru used the summit to seek the support of relevant stakeholders to drive the vision of the Nigerian academia by collaborating with them to foster economic growth and national development of the country. He says the culture of “Teach right, hire right and train right should be imbibed by the academia.