It’s Time to Re-structure and Re-brand the PTDF

No Comments » November 14th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Energy Development Project

It’s time to Re-structure and Re-brand the PTDF

Established in 1973 by Decree No 25 of 1973 (now Act) the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) is the pioneer government-owned oil and gas sector and industry special purpose vehicle (SPV) capacity building institutional framework for local content development and enhancement in oil and gas technologies and management in Nigeria.. Its existence remained largely obscure for almost 27 years. It was domiciled, administered and managed within Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (FMPR).

Throughout these years, the PTDF existed just as a Desk within the DPR and was only known to a very few members of the general public (probably beneficiaries of its largesse), petroleum sector and industry bureaucrats and technocrats that managed its affairs. All that long, the agency was never subjected to any reform and/or amendment of its mandate or organisational set up.

It was only in the year 2000 that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration dusted it up, moved it to the Presidency and established an Interim Management Committee (IMC) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, who was then President Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Petroleum and Energy Matters. The IMC was placed under the direct supervision of the Office of the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

The new institutional set up for the reinvigorated and rejuvenated PTDF took-off quietly and was largely made up of staff assembled from various works of life; but largely from law, social sciences and business/banking background under the amiable leadership of its pioneer Executive Secretary, Dr. Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar (alias ‘Mairago’).

The first three years of the rejuvenated PTDF were smooth sailing albeit with minor normal hiccups or teething problems here and there usually associated with take-off of any new set up for that matter. The management went about implementing its mandate with zeal. For instance, it resurrected the PTDF’s Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS) for postgraduate studies in all aspects of oil and gas development (e.g. in the fields of engineering, geology, geo-sciences and management etc). For example, hundreds of eligible Nigerians from all the 36 States of the federation, FCT and Staff members of the PTDF itself were awarded full scholarships under the Fund’s OSS to study mainly masters level degrees in all aspects of oil and gas fields (PhD degrees were later included) in various Universities; largely in the United Kingdom (UK).

A similar arrangement with the Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics was also subsequently put in place to run concurrently with the OSS. In addition to these flagship programmes or schemes, other tangible and intangible programmes and projects were designed and are being implemented diligently and in accordance with the mandate of the Fund.

Unfortunately however, the initial successes registered by the new management of the Fund under the new dispensation ran into the murky waters of the Nigerian partisan politics. First, the succession battle for the Kaduna State Gubernatorial ticket in 2003 between the erstwhile incumbent of the office, then Governor Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi and the pioneer Executive Secretary of the Fund, Dr. Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar. Second, the titanic second term succession tussle between President Obasanjo himself and his Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and third, the most recent politically motivated and sponsored false allegations and wild rumours that the Hon Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and the PTDF management were planning to re-locate a yet to be established University of Petroleum from the Niger Delta to Kaduna, the home state of the Hon. Minister.

These three above mentioned politically motivated events brought the PTDF to the public glare, albeit for the wrong reasons. These nasty events notwithstanding, the Engineer Muttaqha Rabe Darma-led PTDF management has progressively moved on with the real business of rebuilding the battered image of the Fund to be the most highly regarded, productively visible and trusted Nigeria’s public trust Fund.

However, there is no better time than now to re-examine the Fund’s mandate and also to re-structure and re-brand it in light of the contemporary dynamics of the Nigerian overall energy sector and its resulting political economy. Therefore, the changes needed are more than the mere cosmetic additions made to the organisational set up of the Fund in the now controversial omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

What is needed is expansion of the existing mandate of the PTDF to include (in addition to oil and gas), also the following energy sources, types and/or sectors: electricity/power sector; new, renewable and/or alternative energy resources like Solar, Wind, Hydropower, Coal, Biomass, Bio-fuels and Nuclear energy.

The need to incorporate these other sources, types and/or sectors of energy mix into the mandate of the PTDF is long overdue. Hence, President Yar’Adua should consider removing the PTDF from the PIB and draw a new independent stand-alone bill that takes into consideration this proposition. The proposed independent stand-alone bill should be an all-encompassing one that includes all the above mentioned energy sources/types and sectors.

Thus, a re-structured and re-branded PTDF will emerge as a holistic and all-encompassing Energy Technologies Development Fund (ETDF). The wisdom and beauty associated with this proposition include the following:

a) It will eliminate the desire from the government to establish similar PTDF-styled types of Funds for the Power, Renewable and/or Nuclear energy sectors. Already, there are murmurings towards this direction from certain vested interest within the government bureaucratic/technocratic and political circles and

b) It will also greatly de-link the Fund from any overarching inordinate and subterranean geopolitical claim against the Fund and de-politicise its operational mandate; as all the six geopolitical regions will have something to contribute to the pool of the national energy mix and make up. For example, the proposed new institutional framework is envisaged to have operational directorates for each and every energy source/type or sector mentioned above that is available in the country.

In conclusion, what Nigeria needs at the moment are comprehensive and holistic energy bills that are: specific to energy-type, source and/or sector (for instance, the current situation whereby oil and gas are lumped together under a single bill will still undermine the quest for accelerated development of the gas sector as witnessed in the past 50 years of oil and gas development in Nigeria.).The comprehensive energy bills are to ensure flexibility to make amendments and/or ease of reform of the specific energy source, type and/or sector due to the inherent different characteristics of each of the energy source, type or sector, but at the same time, organically integrated to provide a holistic national energy master plan and roadmap for a robust and sustainable national energy security policy.

Abubakar A Nuhu-Koko

Sunday, 01 November 2009

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