Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa'I
By Ernest Chinwo
Youths of Bonny Kingdom in Rivers State have expressed dissatisfaction with the delay in the take-off of the Federal Gas Polytechnic sited in the area.
They demanded that the Federal Government should urgently commence administrative and academic activities for the institution to achieve set objectives.
Speaking at a press conference in Port Harcourt, the leader of Bonny Youth Federation, Mr. Gift Hart, lamented that years after the upgrade of the institution from the National Technical Institute of Petroleum and Gas to Federal Gas Polytechnic, the institution was yet to take off as expected.
His words: “The Federal Gas Polytechnic, Bonny, formerly known as the National Technical Institute for Petroleum and Gas, Bonny, was conceived by the Rivers State Government in the year 2000 to serve as a feeder institution to the Liquefied Natural Gas Project in terms of manpower training and development. The foundation stone of the project was therefore laid to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Liquefied Natural Gas Project with the intention that trainees of the Institute will feed the manpower requirement of the newly built LNG project.
“The Institution was handed over to Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to complete in 2006 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said the institute is part of government plan to develop the Niger Delta youths. The decision attracted rave reviews and rousing applause from home and abroad. It left a semblance of a country poised to put a round peg in a round hole taking into account the strategic role of the area in the oil and gas sector of the country.
“Similarly, the Federal Government under the Jonathan administration went further to upgrade the National Technical Institute into a full-fledged Federal Gas Polytechnic that will specialise in Gas Technologies, alternative energy technologies, and Environmental Sciences by directing that the National Board of technical Education, NBTE and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to put modalities on ground to ensure the smooth take off of the institution.
“We were encouraged because the importance of an institution of this nature with a corresponding industry cannot be misplaced. Bonny is an oil and gas hub in the region. Hence, the Polytechnic was expected to churn out the much-needed middle manpower in the oil and gas industry, considering that it will not only be training Bonny people, but will also be training pipeline communities people from the Niger Delta and of course students cutting across the length and breadth of the whole country.”
According to him, the Bonny youths demanded that, “PTDF should be persuaded to hand over the custodianship of the completed facilities to either the Bonny kingdom Development Committee (BKDC) or to a Federal Government-empanelled governing council to oversee the day to day facilities, security maintenance of the structures in the institution as well as general liaison with extraneous governmental, community and third parties agencies, with a view to fast-tracking the development of the polytechnic, the recruitment of appropriate staff members and other aspects of the institution’s development.”
The youths also demanded that full administrative and academic work should commence in the institution if the federal government was sincere about the project.