The Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, on Monday inducted 217 beneficiaries of its 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 Masters of Science, MSc, and Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, scholarships.

At the ceremony in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the fund, Femi Ajayi, said that the new beneficiaries had brought the number of recipients of the scholarship programme to 2, 974 since it began in 2000.

“Today, we are inducting 217 scholars, including 170 fresh MSc scholars, four deferred as well as 43 fresh PhD scholars,” he said.

He said that no fewer than 500 candidates sat for the examination, out of which 217 were selected.

According to Mr. Ajayi, PTDF has so far sponsored the training of 2,412 MSc students in Petroleum Engineering, Gas Engineering, Geo-Science, Off-Shore Engineering, Geology and other oil and gas-related courses. He said 488 PhD scholars were also trained in relevant fields overseas since the inception of the Fund, adding that some of the old beneficiaries were engaged in the oil and gas industry and the academia.

“The Fund has also trained 74 university lecturers under its University Lecturers Skills Enhancement Training Program, a train-the-trainer programme, in Newcastle, United Kingdom and Grenoble in France.

“Twenty others will be leaving Nigeria for Grenoble, France in September this year,” he added.

While explaining that the programme could not hold last year due to financial challenges, Mr. Ajayi commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his timely intervention in providing fund this year. He explained that the prevailing trend in the petroleum industry had exposed the wide gap between technology advances in the global scene and the limited capacity of Nigerian professionals.

According to him, non-availability of some core courses in Nigerian universities which are relevant to oil and gas sector, necessitates the need to send Nigerians abroad for studies in such areas. He said that on their return, the beneficiaries were expected to fill up the skills gap in the industry “in the area of state-of-the-art technologies”.

“One of the main objectives of the Overseas Scholarship Scheme is to encourage and stimulate continuous learning and technology development in the petroleum industry,” he said. “It also aims to expose Nigerians to the latest technological advancement in the global petroleum industry.

“It seeks to accelerate the development of local capacities in an international competitive environment thereby enhancing local content participation,” he said.

While congratulating the recipients, the executive secretary advised them to be diligent in their studies, and reminded them of the need to return home after their studies to help in building the country.

“There is actually a bond for the PhD students although we have not been enforcing that bond because we believe that you should be patriotic to serve your country,” he said.

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