Uche Usim, Abuja
In line with its aggressive manpower development template, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) on Tuesday announced the expansion of the Local Scholarship Scheme (LSS) from 23 universities to all the 40 federal universities in Nigeria.
The agency also said the move was to gradually reduce the huge funds spent on overseas training is such exposure can be gotten in the country.
The Manager, Education and Training of the PTDF, Mrs. Rabi’ah Waziri-Adamu, who spoke with journalists at the selection interview exercise for the LSS postgraduate programme across the six geo-political zones said the agency
would select 555 Masters’ and Doctorate candidates across the country for the 2019/2020 session of the local scholarship scheme.
According to her, “370 candidates would be selected for the undergraduate section of the local scholarship scheme, while it would continue to fine-tune the scheme ahead of the gradual phase-out of the overseas scholarship scheme, OSS.
She added: “It is a very strategic programme for the PTDF, as it aligns with our policy initiatives of domesticating most of our programmes in a few years to come. Currently, we have over 3,000 PhDs and MSc candidates, right now, sitting for the interviews. As you know, we have decentralized the interview venue. This is just for the convenience of our applicants.
“The LSS is a policy initiative and there is a deliberate attempt to expand the scheme. This year, unlike previous years, where we had just 23 universities participating in the programme, we have all the 40 federal universities participating in the programme and we are picking 370 MSc candidates from across the nation; that is 10 from each state including the Federal Capital Territory; and we are also picking five PHD students from each of the states of the federation, including FCT.
“The local scholarship has an undergraduate aspect to it; we are picking 10 undergraduate students from each of the states and they are going to all the Federal Universities.
“However, we had just about 23 universities, but because we want to expand the numbers of the LSS, we now partnered with all the 40 federal universities to implement the scheme.”
She added that the PTDF also has an upgrade programme where it picks departments in some federal universities as well as state universities that have oil and gas-related programmes, or upgrade in human capacity and infrastructure, adding that the LSS is instituted in each of these upgraded departments.
Mrs Waziri-Adsmu further explained that the Overseas Scholarship Scheme, OSS, which it planned to phase out gradually, is a short term measure to address the capacity gaps in the Nigerian petroleum industry, noting that following the implementation of the OSS over the years, the PTDF had trained a significant number of lecturers and imbued them with so many skills.
“We have so many Nigerians now that are participating in the oil and gas industry that the PTDF has trained. So we feel that the time has come for us to domesticate the programmes and then cut down on the numbers that we sponsor for the overseas scholarships,” she added.
Waziri-Adamu declared that in the past two years, the PTDF had reviewed all the benefits for the Local Scholarship Scheme and had made it more attractive.
She said: “We have included an aspect that caters for Bench work for the PHD scholars; they go abroad and spend six months in a university that offers a programmed that is related to their research area. So they get a supervisor that would work with them abroad. For some of them, it is due to lack of equipment, for some it is because of the expertise that they find in the universities abroad. So they go and spend six months.
“We also give provision for conferences. This is to encourage our local scholars to have an international aspect to their research. So once they have a paper that has been published or that they wish to present, we allow them to go anywhere in the world, as long as we know that the conference is oil and gas-related and it is of high standard; it is recognize in the industry. PTDF foots all the bills, including air tickets and then allowances that would pay for their accommodation while attending the conference.”