SAN FRANCISCO, July 31, (THEWILL) – The Acting Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Prof Albassan Bichi, has given a graphic detail of how the institution was looted for about six years.
Lamenting how the funds allocated to the university were allegedly mismanaged, the vice chancellor, while addressing members of Oil Mineral Producing Area Stakeholders Forum (OMSTAFOR), a group which midwifed the establishment of the institution, during a courtesy visit at his office in Ugbomre, near Effurun, Delta State, Prof Bichi said that the university would have gone far beyond its present state if not for maladministration which predated it.
He said for six years, the institution was derailed to the extent that funds committed to its growth were under utilised and mismanaged.
He disclosed that within the period, the university had a bag log of debt stemmed from inflated contracts that were awarded indiscriminately as well as salary and allowance of workers who were about 230, a far cry below the original plan of 1,000 for category of workers in the institution.
According to Bichi, the university was starved of the takeoff grant of N1billion approved by the Federal Government following the refusal of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to release its counterpart funding of N500million to the institution.
He stressed that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) own share of N500million which was apparently released was not utilised until recently when the fund was eventually used to clear the huge debt profile of the university as well as facilities development.
“The Federal Government didn’t fail on its part to fund the university. The Federal Government gave PTDF and ETF directives to release N500 million each summing its N1billion takeoff grant to the university but PTDF never gave a penny till date…As a result, no PTDF project can be found in the university. TETFUND, the former ETF, released its own share but the money was being kept in an account in Abuja for reason I don’t know…not one penny has been spent and we have an underdeveloped institution?
“This university was raped and it was left stranded. It was two weeks ago we did the first promotion ever. You can imagine that. For six years, no promotion was carried out here. We managed to do promotion, we managed to pay salary. We cleared the back log of allowances which have been there all these years,” he stated..
Lamenting that the situation in the institution was so bad that students never under took practical and work for the number of years as a result of lack of functional laboratory, equipment and other essential facilities, he said the governing councils couldn’t do any thing to restore the situation to normalcy.
“The university was derailed for six years. The situation was pathetic. Where do you have chairman of the Governing Council drinking beer and smoking in the university environment during meetings if not in FUPRE. That was the situation we had here before.
“The former VC couldn’t buy even one hammer in the engineering faculty while in office… By now, we should have started receiving equipment because all the processes were duly followed but they brought us backward all these years with petition and counter petitions….I was in the process to start acquiring equipment for the university when petitions started flying that we didn’t follow due process.
” When I came in, we found out that students don’t undergo practical work, they have being teaching them without practicals…Petroleum Training Institution (PTI), refused our students to use their facility for practical, so we have being running around from here to DELSU Oleh campus to Engineering department of Navy logistic Centre , Oghara when we ought to have gotten this equipment all this while.. If you don’t have practical experience you can’t be a good engineer,”.he stated.
However, he said the institution had received over 1000 applications from those seeking employment despite the fact that it would be taking only about 250.
Earlier, the National Coordinator of the forum, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, said they there were in the institution to acquaint themselves with the acting Vice Chancellor and to intimate him of their move to press for how the institution could be properly funded by the authorities.
Prince Maikpobi, flanked by traditional rulers of the platform of Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON),however explained the efforts made by the group in the establishment of the institution, saying “we were using all avenue to ensure the establishment of the institution”.
He told the Vice Chancellor that the forum was already lobbying through its memorandum submitted to the Senate Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill for the inclusion of the Vice Chancellor of the institution as well as representative of Host Communities Development Fund in the Board of Petroleum Technology Development Fund.
Meanwhile, Maikpobi has said that since the activities of the upstream petroleum inspectorate would have direct impact on the host communities, just as NUPENG and PENGASAN are represented, TROMPCON should also be allowed to nominate host communities members into both board of upstream petroleum inspectorate and downstream petroleum regulating agency in the PIB.
Besides, OMSTAFOR has canvassed in its memorandum to PIB senate committee that all gas flaring penalties in accordance with section 201(1) of the Act should be paid into the Petroleum Host Communities Development Fund (PHC) just as they said all gas flaring penalties should be lodged in the CBN as at 16th July 2013 and credited to PHC Fund as take off grant.