By Sunny Awhefeada
The Federal University of Petroleum Resources, (FUPRE), Effurun, Delta State was founded in 2007 and it caught news headline as Nigeria’s nay Africa’s first specialised university, dedicated to the study of petroleum resources.
The idea of FUPRE was novel and many thought that in no distant time the university will take its place in the global commune of scholarship, technological innovation and economic advancement. Since it bears the imprimatur of petroleum, which spews forth dollars, many had imagined that the university will approximate the ideals of what a first rate university should be. The dream that birthed FUPRE was lofty. So was the vision that inspired it. But dreams do die and visions do get blurred.
Today, FUPRE’s lofty dream is under threat. Its enabling vision is under assault. FUPRE’s unending ordeal arising from abysmally poor funding since inception appears to be nearing climax.
The non-inclusion of FUPRE in the 2018 budget submitted to the National Assembly points at nothing, but a deliberate design to finally asphyxiate the university. Since it opened its portals for its first batch of students in 2007, the university has had to contend with deprivations arising from a scheme of financial strangulation.
The telltale of financial kwashiorkor is unmistakable in FUPRE. Dearth of learning infrastructure such as modern lecture halls, libraries, laboratories and workshops; inadequate accommodation for students, poorly motivated and overworked staff and a forlornly un-academic environment have become the recurring experience of FUPRE due to financial starvation.
What is playing out in FUPRE is by no means fortuitous. It is a deliberate ploy to destroy the university since it is in the South and then promote ancillary institutions in the North! Evidence? The National Institute of Petroleum Policy and Strategic Studies and the National College of Petroleum in Kaduna, in the North, were both advanced N15 Billion and N10 Billion respectively, even when they were yet to take off. Yet, FUPRE remains stranded financially.
There have been tendencies to either replicate or move critical infrastructure from the South to the North. This, of course, is part of the agenda to undermine the South. A few years ago when the National Maritime University, now at Okerenkoko, was being conceived a professor of Northern extraction in one of the approving bodies made moves towards locating the maritime university in the landlocked North!
The tendency to undermine the South in the allocation of institutions of critical and strategic importance has been on for a long time and it is not likely to end soon. An example is the location of military institutions.
The Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), the Command and Staff College, the National Defence College and the Nigeria Defence Industries Corporation are all located in the North. Why has the NDA not been replicated in the South? Even the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) is in the North. Why has it not been replicated in the South.
The Police University is also in the North. Are these coincidences? No and no and no! These institutions are central to national development and cohesion; hence, they are located in the North to not only ensure easy access and ascendancy in service by Northerners, but to also ensure that the South is dominated and led by the noose. It is a neo-colonial strategy, oiled and sustained by Nigeria’s caliphate-oligarchs to entrench and deepen their hegemonic hold on the South.
The configuration of the Nigerian state has always been for the South to produce the nation’s wealth, while the North, like a profligate husband, squanders it. The many years of military rule during which the North appropriated the nation’s oil wealth attest to this. Whatever will benefit the South is often negated.
That is why the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) set up as an intervention agency in the despoiled Niger Delta is grossly underfunded with the Federal Government owing it over a trillion naira! The same way the Ogoni cleanup has been jettisoned.
Yet, the same Federal Government has gone ahead to establish a development commission for the North-East, with heavy funding sourced from the oil of the devastated Niger Delta!
Some Southerners have been complicit in the plot to make the South a vassal entity.
This played out a year ago when infantile Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, and Buhari’s now wearied Man Friday, vehemently rejected the establishment of the Maritime University in the Niger Delta! We call his likes ekpa shisha in Urhobo! All people of goodwill must range on the side of FUPRE.
The idea behind it which is to provide “local human capacity training, development and research to advance the oil sector” must not die. Nigeria is largely dependent on oil and FUPRE is the apex institution that will consolidate our fortune in the oil sector through research.
What is happening to FUPRE is, for now, an assault and affront on the Niger Delta, but ultimately it is Nigeria that will be diminished if the FUPRE dream is delayed or denied.