The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) has expressed its support for the Executive Secretary and Management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) in building capacities for the oil and gas industry, particularly in tertiary education in Nigeria.  The President of the Association, Asefon Sunday Dayo,  led the association’s executive members drawn from various universities across the country on a fact-finding mission to the Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau. The President stated that some interest groups are being exploited for political reasons to discredit and distract the Fund’s leadership from its good work in developing Nigerian students’ capacities through its scholarships programmes and other intervention initiatives.

He said, after full investigation, the association deemed it fit to identify with the Fund because they are pleased with the way it is piloting its affairs, especially in the number of infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities deployed to many universities through its university upgrade projects which he said are having a positive impact on the learning and research across the country. He also commended the Fund’s emphasis on merit in the award of its scholarship and other training programmes.

Mr Asefon described as sad a media propaganda sponsored by some political elements to paint the Fund negatively by portraying it as an institution that either abandons its scholars abroad or awards contracts to cronies. All of this, he claims, has turned out to be a gimmick aimed at achieving a political goal and thus harmful to the growth of our educational system.

The NANS President assures the Fund’s Management of Nigerian students’ support and satisfaction with their work and challenges them to do more in Nigeria’s education system, the growth of Nigerian youth and students, and the overall Nigerian university system.

The Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau, in his response, commended the association for such a fact-finding mission and assured them that the Management of the Fund will not get distracted in its resolve to deliver in its mandate with more emphasis on the Nigerian students who year in, year out, remain the most important beneficiaries of the Fund’s capacity building programmes and projects.

He said, “although the Fund prioritizes its scholarship programme as one of the flagship programmes, its mandate is to develop capacity for the oil and gas industry and therefore not a scholarship awarding institution. However, Dr Gusau expressed the Fund’s commitment to continue with its intervention’s programmes with more emphasis on Nigerian institutions and the award of local scholarships. “PTDF goes the extra mile to provide the best scholarship for Nigerians, but that is only a fragment of our various capacity-building activities. We will continue to make it our priority, and the testimonies we have been getting for the past 20 years have been excellent”. 

The Executive Secretary expressed concern over the incorrect narrative being peddled about the incapability of Nigerian universities. While dismissing the notion as baseless, he urged Nigerian students to be proud of their various institutions as they continue to produce high-quality students who make the country proud across various fields of human endeavours.

“It’s my greatest concern anytime we hear people saying that our universities are not good enough. I use myself as an example; I have never attended any foreign university in my studies, and I don’t think I am not good enough. In fact, we send students to many universities around the world every year; our students do exceptionally well, and they never question or return any of these students on the basis that they are not good enough.”

He further stated that apart from a few issues such as strikes and the inadequate facilities in some places, Nigerian universities still produce world-class teachers and students who are breaking new grounds in their learning and research endeavours. He further urged students to be deliberate in their pursuit of knowledge and to always take advantage of the In-country Scholarship window provided by the PTDF as a means of strengthening their capacities in our local institutions.