06 January 2014, Abuja – Cash-strapped Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) got a life line from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), which enabled it to get 60 undergraduate students who are due to leave the shores of Nigeria today for Norway on a three-and-a-half-year study programme under PTDF’s overseas scholarship scheme.
An apparently relieved Executive Secretary of the Fund, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, described the UN agency’s sponsorship of this batch of students as a “face-lift.”
PTDF has been battling to convince foreign universities where it has its scholars that despite its financial crunch, it was capable of meeting its obligations to its students and the institutions.
At a departure ceremony over the weekend in Abuja where the scholars were put through an orientation course, Oluleye told them: “I need to remind you that although this educational programme is part of the fund’s intervention in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country for empowerment of the youths, this is unique in the sense that this is the only programme we are undertaking in partnership with United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR),… thus giving the Fund a face-lift.”
Represented by the General Manager, Administration and Human Resources Dept., Balarabe Ahmad, the organisation’s chief executive explained that based on the huge successes recorded in the training of scholars at post-graduate level over the years, the fund decided that it would also be beneficial to Nigeria if youths were given the opportunity to explore various undergraduate programmes under the amnesty programme.
“This effort is what we are witnessing today,” he said. “Therefore, you are benefiting from this programme at this auspicious time when the federal government has designed various programmes to engage our youths in such a way that they will contribute meaningfully to national development and steer them away from militancy and mischief-making.”
Oluleye charged the youths to optimise the opportunity now offered them and not allow themselves to be distracted by the many attractions they would meet in the host country where, he said, they would also encounter a lot of culture shocks.
To underscore the point, the General Manager, Education and Training, Ahmed Galadima, reminded the beneficiaries of the scheme, drawn from across Nigeria, that apart from serious health grounds, the six months pre-engineering course and the main three years degree programme would not be extended for any other reason.
Consequently, he pointed out, failure of any of their courses would see those affected returning to Nigeria empty-handed and losing the chance of being engaged in the lucrative oil and gas sector.
The scholarship package includes tuition fees, accommodation fees, feeding allowance, insurance, living expenses, laptop, books, warm clothing and special events allowances as well as return ticket to and from Norway.
Galadima said the money for their feeding and daily needs would be made available to them on a quarterly basis.
– This Day