The Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Bello Aliyu Gusau, said the organization is working hard to ensure that Nigerians virtually takes over all the oil and gas operations in the country
Gusau said the group was committed to bridging the gap in local content and capacity development for the nation's oil and gas sector.
Speaking during an induction programme for about 201 Nigerians, who were awarded scholarships to attend top universities in Germany, France and China in Abuja, Gusau said: "This is to develop capacity for the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Going forward, virtually all the oil and gas operations in Nigeria will be taken over by Nigerians. That is the whole purpose of this exercise."
According to him, the aim of the scholarship is to stem the escalating costs of services imported into the country and further domesticate the benefits of the programmes from foreign training institutions to indigenous institutions.
Gusau said about 124 students were awarded Master of Science (MSc) scholarships, while about 77 others would embark on doctorate degree in different fields of the oil and gas sector.
The scholarship was made possible through the fund's strategic partnership arrangements with some top ranking institutions in Germany, France and China, he noted.
"For this particular set, we have about 124 MSc students and 77 others going for PhD and they are going to universities in the three different countries, which include Germany, China and France. Other sets are coming later in the month. They are going there for a purpose and must be good ambassadors of this country wherever they find themselves," Gusau said.
He noted that the selection process was very rigorous and objective to ensure that the best students were selected for the need of the oil and gas sector.
"The selection was very rigorous and objective, to the extent that hitherto we subjected students to just a one hour aptitude test, but we thought that is not a good measures to determine their capacities. So what we now do is that we start right from the onset to find out the quality of degree you have after spending four years in the university
"If you have a first class, you are going to earn more than somebody who has a second class upper in our marking and that is how it goes on for other classes of degrees. So that is how we ended up with the list and so 70 per cent of the marks or grades that they got was based on those criteria, including if you were given an award by your university.
"For instance if you are the best student in chemical engineering or your particular discipline, that counts. If also you've published something in a good journal, that will also count. So at the end of the day, we got a very good set. In fact, there is a particular state where we hardly got somebody with a second class upper, as virtually all the 15 people invited from that state had a first class," Gusau said.
According to him, the selections were also equitably done across the six geo-political zones of the country with preferences to oil-producing states.
The number of the scholars who currently would be gaining scholarships into Nigerian universities are about three times the total number of the awardees heading to foreign universities, he stated.