From Omon-Julius Onabu in Warri, 08.09.2009
Three years after the first set of students were admitted into the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE), no effort is being made to build physical structures at the permanent site in Ogbomro, Delta State.
The institution still operates from the premises of Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun.
THISDAY investigation revealed that the only evidence of the existence of the university in the area is the signpost at the Ogbomro junction along the Warri-Delta Steel Company (DSC) Aladja Road.
Although, the institution commenced full academic activities about three years ago, its present 200 Level and 100 Level students have continued to receive their lectures in small cubicle-like rooms at the corners of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Conference Hall, Effurun, near Warri.
Moreover, the students are housed in temporary hostels which are buildings meant for the Ogbomro Community Hospital constructed 10 years ago by the late General Sani Abacha regime.
The hospital, according to the people of the Ogbomro community, never became functional as it was abandoned following the death of Abacha and the inception of the Obasanjo administration in 1999.
Interestingly, THISDAY further discovered that the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has erected a signboard at the gates of the said hospital (now used as students’ hostel), implying that the commission built the structures though they had long been built before the inception of the NDDC.
However, when THISDAY visited the place designated as the permanent site of the Petroleum University at the weekend, it was gathered that even the evaluation reg-arding the property, wh-ich is required for the effective take-over of the site for the erection of the physical structures were yet to be concluded.
The major earth road leading into Ogbomro community is in deplorable condition, though the Delta State government was said to have long announced the conclusion of contractual agreement to construct the road.
The students are ferried daily between their make-shift lecture rooms in the PTI Conference Hall and Ogbomro, a distance of about eight kilometers in shuttle buses; but because of the terrible condition of the roads in Ogbomro they have to disembark at some point off the Warri-DSC Road and trek the remaining distance of about 1.5 kilometers .
The traditional head of Ogbomro, High Chief Ambrose Olughor (the Unumworo of Ogbomro), blamed the apparent stagnation of development plan of the permanent site of the Petroleum university on the failure of the Federal Government to provide necessary funds for the proper take-off of the university.
Olughor said he, nevertheless, did not believe the Federal Government had jettisoned the plan to build the university in his community. He said efforts to establish the school dated back to the early 1990s, though it was the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that actually triggered the take-off of the institution.
Apprehension over the fate of FUPRE became rife following certain statements credited to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, who was alleged to have also directed the immediate release of over N12 billion towards the upgrading of the College of Petroleum Studies Kaduna (the minister’s home state) as an institution for the training of top level managers in the petroleum sector.
Federal Government has however said it has no plans to relocate the university from Delta State. Rather, the government said it has plans to upgrade facilities in both PTI Effurun and Petroleum College, Kaduna.
Meanwhile, some of the students of FUPRE at the weekend told THISDAY that the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Alabi Babatunde had while addressing them assured that the government never nursed any plan to relocate the university.
Babatunde, was said to have given the assurance while addressing students of the institution at the temporary administrative office at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun.
Babatunde was quoted as saying that the Federal Government “has never” nursed any plans to relocate the university, which is one of the less than 10 such spedrugsed universities in the world.”
The students, who said they wished something more concrete was being done about FUPRE’s permanent site, however said they were excited that the school authority was “doing everything possible to make us comfortable”.
It was not possible to speak with the Vice-chancellor directly on the matter because he was said to be out of the campus on official assignment when THISDAY called at his temporary office at the PTI conference centre. http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=151096