The Air force Institute of Technology, (AFIT), Kaduna wants to deepen its collaboration with the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) in enhancing the capacities and competencies of its personal and infrastructure. The Commandant of the institute, Air Vice Marshall Cletus Udeagulu who led a team from the institute on a courtesy visit to the PTDF, said the institute has acquired the status of a university and wants the Fund to assist in the production of high quality engineering graduates in key oil and gas related areas.

“Since our establishment in 2017 we have already set some significant milestones, we have had our first intake of undergraduate students, we are in the process of having our second intake.  Since 2017 our focus has been on research and development and our R&D is actually focused on the oil and gas industry. As I speak to you, we are the pioneer on unmanned systems. We started the unmanned aerial vehicle way back in 2017 which was unveiled by former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and Just recently we unveiled the unmanned operational aerial vehicle which is called “Segumi” which was also unveiled by former President. All these were done by AFIT, we are going to start research on unmanned water vehicle both underwater and surface vehicle. So AFIT is in the forefront of contributing to the oil and gas industry and over the years PTDF has recognized this and provide training for our staff. PTDF has trained over 6 PhD holders that are in AFIT today. PTDF also trained some of our lecturers and even personal in the Nigerian air force”.

Air Vice Marshall Udeagulu further requested for the utilization of the PTDF facility in Kaduna to accommodate the growing number of candidates seeking admission into the institute for various academic programmes.

Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau said that the Fund will collaborate with any Nigerian institution involved in building indigenous capacity for the Nigerian oil and gas industry. He described AFIT as one of such institutions with high prospects for collaboration.

“When we visited your institution, it was instantly obvious to me that, there are many opportunities for us to collaborate. I went round your facilities and I say, there’s a lot we can do together. I am really interested in some of the research undertakings I noticed at that visit especially the unmanned vehicle system, I can see the utility of that to the oil and gas industry”.

 Dr Gusau said PTDF is refocusing its training programmes from foreign to Nigerian universities in furtherance to its domestication policy. He directed the formation of a joint committee that will look at all the areas of collaboration with a view to developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions.

This is the right time to start the collaboration because increasingly we are refocusing, we are directing our attention essentially back to Nigerian institutions. This year alone for the first time we are awarding about 1400 local  scholarship for studies in Nigerian universities and considering the kind of courses that your school is offering,  I see a possibility of many of your students  being able to access some of the sponsorship that we grant mainly in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and other areas”.

He urged AFIT to enlighten its staff and students on the PTDF scholarship process to enable them access the sponsorship that the Fund offers in departments and faculties that offer oil and gas related courses.

The Provost of the Air Force Institute of Technology, Professor Mohammed Dauda, an ex- PTDF scholar said that AFIT being the most contiguous to PTDF’s National Institute of Petroleum Studies facility in Kaduna desires PTDF collaboration in many areas that are relevant to the oil and gas sector. “Although our flagship course is aerospace engineering, but we do mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and civil engineering. These core engineering programmes are relevant to the oil and gas industry and no institution in Nigeria today has the kind of facilities we have for what we do. We believe we are doing a lot of oil and gas related courses and so we are eminently qualified to collaborate with PTDF”.