REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE FIRST CONVOCATION CEREMONY/INSTALLATION OF CHANCELLOR OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM RESOURCES, EFFURUN, ON MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017.
Let me begin by acknowledging the Board, Management and Staff of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources for the pace setting strides the institution has made in its relatively short history.
- Ten years ago, this institution was conceived as part of the federal government’s efforts to produce highly skilled manpower and relevant expertise for the oil and gas industry. As the first university of its type in Africa, FUPRE has enabled the federal government to improve on the local content in the oil and gas sector. It goes without saying that this institution has a pivotal role to play in the desired transformation of the oil and gas sector.
- I wish to also acknowledge His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Attahiru Mohammad Ahmad, CON, the Emir of Anka who is being installed today as the Chancellor of the University. I think FUPRE is lucky to have such a man as its Chancellor. His Royal Majesty has a strong passion for education and teaching excellence. It is on record that he is the first Emir to
proceed on further education while still on the throne. He was crowned Emir in 1997 but between 2003 and 2004, HRM Alhaji Ahmad went to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, to pursue and obtain a Master’s Degree in International Law and Diplomacy. Please join me to welcome and appreciate His Royal Majesty who I believe will bring his vast knowledge and experience to bear in the running of this citadel of learning.
- Permit me to also recognise our Guest Lecturer in the person of the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. You could not have chosen a better person to speak on “The Prospects of the Oil Industry in the Next Decade.” A thoroughbred professional and a man of deep intellect, I believe this nation owes him a debt of gratitude for the leadership acumen he displayed when he took over as Nigeria’s oil minister in a very turbulent period. His proactive style and skilful handling of the national oil company helped to steer the company away from insolvency and stabilise the economy. The Honourable Minister has also been part of the collective efforts to bring peace to the Niger Delta. We are thankful today that relative peace and calm have returned to the region with all the positive implications this has for our national economy, especially for us in Delta State.
- I am aware that there has been much debate over the future of oil in the light of the current vagaries in the global oil market and its implications for countries like Nigeria whose budgets are heavily dependent on oil revenues. Expectedly, this has fuelled anxiety and fear over the future among the leaders and citizens in OPEC countries. Thankfully, it is not all gloom and doom; there is some glimmer of hope in the horizon.
- Speaking at the Nigeria Oil and Gas international Exhibition in Abuja in February this year, OPEC Secretary-General, His Excellency Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo said and I quote:
- “Looking down the road, it is clear that the world’s need for energy will continue to grow as the population expands and more people come out of poverty. According to OPEC’s 2016 World Oil Outlook released in November 2016, the global population is expected to increase by almost 1.8 billion from 2015-2040 to surpass 9 billion people, with most of the growth occurring in developing countries in particular, led by the Middle East and Africa.
- “GDP growth is also expected to gradually improve and average 3.4% per annum from 2015-2021, with the overall growth rate between 2015 and 2040 slightly higher at 3.55 per annum. Most of the expansion is expected to come from developing countries, with especially strong growth in India and China. As a result of these trends, total primary energy demand is set to increase by 40%, reaching 382mb/d by 2040. Of this amount, 53% will still be satisfied by oil and gas. There is no doubt that oil will remain a fuel of choice for the foreseeable future.”
- However, we must not make the mistake of allowing this bit of cheering news to lull us into a false sense of security. For us as a nation to benefit maximally from our oil revenues, our local refining capacity has to be expanded and deepened within the shortest possible time.
- Recently, the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo called for the establishment of modular refineries in the oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta as a solution to the spate of illegal refinery in the creeks, rivulets, inlets and islands of the region. Unlike large scale refining which, in the case of Nigeria, has proven to be problematic because of non-functionality of plants due to their complex infrastructure and our poor maintenance culture, modular refineries are smaller in size, faster to construct and cheaper to maintain.
- Above all, since they will be operated and overseen by the indigenes of the oil producing communities, they offer tremendous employment opportunities and will effectively see to the cessation of hostilities in the Niger Delta. The reason is simple. The militants are not likely to blow up a facility that belongs to them as opposed to a large scale refinery they see as a symbol of exploitation and repression by the international oil companies in collusion with the federal government.
- As the first petroleum university in Africa, I strongly believe that FUPRE should see the recent call by the Acting President as a challenge, and take the lead in engaging in research that will give us a template for the establishment of indigenous modular plants that are efficient, reliable, safe and perfectly suited to our peculiar socio-economic infrastructure. Such research should clear any lingering doubt about the advantage modular refineries have over the large scale, full service plants given our unique geo-political setting.
- In the meantime, as oil prices continue to recover from the current slump, some of the major capital projects that were abandoned by the IOCs will hopefully be revived. In addition, every effort must be made to entrench sound corporate governance, reduce waste and stamp out corruption in the petroleum industry. Efforts must also not be spared to diversify the economy as a matter of national exigency.
- Here in Delta, we have set ourselves the goal of making agriculture the major growth driver even as we make strenuous efforts to secure our oil and gas installations and boost production. Through our Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) and Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), we are building capacity for our farmers and agro-processors by resourcing them with improved technologies, efficient inputs and marketing support to trigger high yields, ensure profitability and create jobs.
- The co-location of YAGEP beneficiaries in farm clusters around the State is transforming our agricultural landscape and boosting the commodity value chains. It is also helping to enhance beneficiary targeting, economies of scale, market off take, better resource planning, efficient resource use and impact monitoring.
- We are also producing entrepreneurs, managers and leaders through our Skills Training and Acquisition Programme (STEP). Since June 2015, we have trained and established over 2,000 youths in their choice enterprises through our Job Creation Scheme while over 4,000 have been trained in our vocational centres.
- We are confident that over time as these programme are sustained, we will effectively diversify the economy and enhance the business competitiveness of the State.
- It is on this note, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, that I now wish you fruitful deliberation today and a very fulfilling convocation ceremony.
- Thank you for your time and attention.
- God bless us all.
Office of the Governor