Saturday, April 2, 2016 9:53 pm
The cream-de-la-cream of the academic community and gas industry converged at the Faculty of Technology of the University of Ibadan, UI, this week as the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, commissioned the newly constructed $4m UI/NLNG Engineering Laboratory Complex. While the university constructed the complex with $2m, Nigeria Liquefied Gas Limited, NLGN, furnished it with the state-of-the-art equipment worth $2m.
The complex has seven compartments: Automation, Process Control and Robotic Laboratory, Machine Tools Laboratory, Scoda Laboratory, Automation/Computer Room, Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory, Conference Room and offices section.
The complex was among the six capital projects NLNG donated to six Nigerian universities at $2m each, making $12 in all. Other beneficiaries are: University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN; University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT; University of Ilorin, UNILORIN; University of Maiduguri, UNIMAID and Ahmadu Bello University, ABU.
Chairman, NLNG Board of Directors, Dr. Osobonye LongJohn said that the newly established Automation Laboratory is expected to boost the Faculty of Engineering in its mission to produce competent and outstanding engineers who would contribute to finding solutions to the challenges in Nigeria, especially in areas like healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.
Also, the NLNG Managing Director, Mr. Babs Omotowa, painted a rosy picture of how well the company is doing and contributing to the economy of the country. According to him, the company which has been a major contributor to the revenue base of Nigeria has generated some $90b as revenue, mainly from gas. “Since 1999 when we started operation, we have paid to the government over $33b in dividends, taxes and other charges. We are today the biggest tax payer in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, having paid in total $3b in company Income Tax and Education Tax in 2014 and 2015. In addition, we have since 2008 supplied over 80 per cent of the cooking gas in Nigeria’s homes today and our intervention helped to reduce the price by about 50 per cent. In addition, our host community in Bonny Island enjoys virtually uninterrupted electricity, water supply, good roads, schools, and health centres among other facilities provided by NLNG and industry partners on the island”.
“We trained 600 Nigerians in ship building at this centre last year. We are sponsoring Africa’s most prestigious prizes for excellence in Science and Literature since 2004. The prizes are now worth $100,000 each in prize money. …NLNG management and Board of Directors reviewed the situation with the science prize and took a decision in 2013 to invest further down the chain so as to improve the chances for science research so that more winners can emerge in future with research that will impact the lives of Nigerians. That was the genesis of our decision to build and equip world class engineering laboratories. In our drive to build a better Nigeria with presence across the country, we then decided to select one university each from each of the six geo-political zones and to invest $12m in total for the project”, he explained.
Omotowa went further, “In selecting the universities, excellence was again the key determinant. The six universities were selected purely on merit, based on the top ranked university in each region from the independent rankings by the National Universities Commission, NUC, and the World Universities Ranking”.
He, however, noted that going into the project, the implementation was guided by each university’s peculiar technical needs adding, “It is praiseworthy that this great university did not only efficiently utilize the funding made available for this project by NLNG, but also contributed several hundred million naira of its own resources to its actualization. This is a commendable act by the management of the university and should be applauded and emulated”.
The NLNG boss hoped that partnering with UI would enhance the promotion of engineering research and innovation as well as seeking solutions to the nation’s infrastructure and underdevelopment challenges. “It is critical that NLNG’s partnership with UI and our investment here contribute to the urgent task of nation building through modern scientific interventions. We must revitalize research and development in Nigeria”, he concluded.
In his speech, the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka gave the credit of the project to the former Vice Chancellor who is now the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, saying, “It was during the tenure of the immediate past VC, Professor Adewole that this project was initiated and completed”.
Corroborating the NLNG boss, Olayinka said, “Let me inform you that this initiative came from NLNG in form of a donation and we told the company that we were nurturing a project to address the peculiar need of our students in the Faculty of Technology. They agreed. I am happy to report that there was no imposition from either side. It was a deliberate equal partnership. The facility was built by the university and equipped by the Nigeria LNG Limited on an equal partnership basis of $2million each”.
The VC pointed out that the institution has discovered the need for automation technicians and engineering professionals in Nigeria and Africa, and decided to take it as a long term project by partnering with the NLNG to establish a centre that would focus on capacity building in the area of Industrial Automation Process Control and SCADA Technology.
Explaining that industrial automation is the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the productivity and delivery of products and service as well as the creation of a complex application to become a reality, he was confident that the centre would bridge the gap between the classrooms and the industries.
Olayinka equivocally stressed that a country that could not meet its scientific and technological needs is not fit to be called a country, adding that adequate investment in science and technology is required for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy. “We are pleading with other corporate organizations to support government in funding projects/ initiatives that would have direct impact on our students and the university’s immediate environment. All our seven engineering courses in the Faculty: Civil, Electrical/Electronics, Agricultural and Environmental, Wood Products, Petroleum, Food Technology, and Mechanical Engineering will benefit from the facility”, he concluded.
Though, lauding the NLNG for its contribution to education, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Olasupo Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, also urged it to equally invest massively in agriculture which will reduce unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.
The Olubadan, who was represented by Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Olufemi Olaifa, said, “You gave $2m each to UI and other five universities that benefitted from your scheme, totaling $12m to the six universities. That is too small compared to the $90b you made. I was asked to thank you but $12m is not enough, add to it”.
Among those in attendance were: Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo and Emeritus Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe. Others were: Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir David Lawal, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs, Williams Alo; Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, represented by the UCH CMD, Professor Temitope Alonge; Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Deputy Managing Director, Isa Muhammed Inuwa; John Samuel Ndueso of Covenant University, College of Science & Technology, Dept. of Electrical & Information Engineering; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Redeemer’s University, Ogun State, Professor Fola Aboaba; Orangun of Oke-Ila Orangun, His Royal Majesty, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Aroyinkeye I and Venderable Professor E. E. Lucas of Anglican Church.