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PTDF Under The Leadership Of Dr. Bello Aliyu Gusau

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A peep into the resume of  Dr Bello Gusau, the executive secretary of  Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), one will no doubt, conclude that his appointment by the Federal Government on Monday, on the 26th of September 2016,  was a perfect example of a “round peg in a round hole”.

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political Science with specialization in Political Economy and Development Studies. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Jos, as well as various programmes in other institutions of learning abroad, such as the Institute of Energy Studies in Oxford, United Kingdom and the Harvard Institute of International Development, Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America.

On his working experience, without sounding patronizing, Dr Gusau, is doubt, well experienced to face the challenges at PTDF. He began his working career in teaching and research, as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Othman Danfodio University, Sokoto.

The later part of his working life was mainly in the Nigerian Petroleum industry beginning with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, where he served as Special Assistant to a Minister of Petroleum Resources, and later as Secretary to the Oil and Gas Sector Reforms Implementation Committee (OGIC) whose work gave birth to the original Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He has extensive experience in research and policy formulation in the oil and gas sector and is a strong advocate of legal and institutional reforms of the sector. Until his appointment, Dr Gusau was into private consultancy service.

One of the major assignments he carried out as the ES of PTDF was the inauguration of first Zeolite Working Group on December 11, 2018. The setting up of the Zeolite working group followed the successful outcome of PTDF sponsored research on the development of Zeolite catalyst from Kankara Koalin.

Membership of the Zeolite working group comprise representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dangote Refinery, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Ahmadu Bello University.

The mandate of this group was to work out modalities for the commercialization and use of the Zeolite catalyst for refining and other applications in the Nigerian petrochemical industry.

What is particularly instructive was that the Executive Secretary urged the group to ensure delivery of its assignment within a reasonable time frame in view of the significance of the exercise to the industry in terms of cost and the need to develop of the mid and downstream sector where value is created within the industry.

His call to action reads thus: “If we are able to make serious headway in this, that would to a reasonable extent make appreciable impacts on the domestic oil and gas industry.

“So that’s why we are bringing all the necessary stakeholders together including of course the NNPC, the DPR, NCDMB, the refineries including Dangote Refinery. Going forward by the time we start refining, even if it’s just 50% of the crude we produce, the demand for such catalyst will be huge.

“So, I think it is really time we do something about it before we get to that point. So, this is the whole purpose of this exercise”. Clearly, a man who knows the problem of petroleum industry from the point of view of local content exclusion spoke the mind of millions of Nigerians on this issue.

It appears the coming of the ES to PTDF is also to block unnecessary leakage through strategic cost cutting initiatives. For instance while hosting the Vice Chancellors of Federal Universities on April 4, 2017, where he discussed the new strategic agenda that will govern the training and capacity building programmes of the Fund.

“At the heart of the agenda is the domestication of all PTDF training and capacity building programmes, with the implication that Nigerian universities will henceforth, play a greater role in the process as partners and major stakeholders.

PTDF Executive Secretary explained that the present scholarship arrangement which is disproportionately focused on the Overseas Scholarship Scheme, is no longer sustainable and therefore needs to be reversed, so that the bulk of the scholarship to be offered going forward, would be for training in Nigerian universities.

“At the moment PTDF has decided that there will be no more undergraduate Overseas Scholarships. All undergraduate programmes for sponsorship by PTDF will now be done in Nigerian universities.

“For the post graduate programmes, the bulk of that for both the Masters and PhD’s will be done in Nigerian universities. We are also open to collaboration especially through the split-site PhD programme”

Perhaps, the most eloquent testimony to the fact that Dr. Gusau could be a problem solver in Nigeria is December 7, 2018, charge to Petroleum Gas (LPG) experts to look beyond the business and technical issues involved in the production of LPG for household use to proffering solutions to the political and social challenges which create energy crisis that threatens the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians.

Gusau spoke at the opening of the 8th Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) Annual conference and exhibition at the PTDF Tower in Abuja, attributed the series of conflicts that occur across the country to the struggle for household energy sources.

He pointed out that, there are strong and strategic national imperatives regarding the LPG initiative beyond economic issues which should be given adequate priority. An example, he said, is firewood which is becoming very scarce and expensive as an energy source and therefore the cause of conflicts.

“I will tell you one thing; virtually in the whole of the North East and the North West, the forest resources have been exhausted and partly because there is no other alternative fuel for households. Just take a trip from Abuja to Kano, if you pay attention, a large number of the trucks moving on the road are carrying firewood.

“Most of the farmers/herders’ clashes are largely attributed to the fact that there is a big struggle for forest resources”. He said, until the LPG initiative addresses the dearth of alternative energy sources for our households, there is no way the ongoing conflicts going on across this country can be averted.

On the issue of gas flaring, the ES of PTDF was again on point when he received the Chairman Ministerial Committee of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and other members of the committee when they paid a courtesy call to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to present the framework of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme and also find common areas for possible collaboration on the project, on September, 2018.

Again, the ES has this to say: “I am one of those people who do believe that the future of the Nigerian economy lies on gas mainly due to the fact that, the more activities that is generated in the mid and the downstream, the more value that will be created. not just for gas flare out or the environment but for the future of Nigeria economy.

“The fact of the matter is that some level of complexity is inevitable in a programme of this nature which means you have to create the kind of competences that will be required first to manage this programme over the short term and the mid-term but more importantly to create the competences and the skills that are required to sustain this programme over a period of time”.

He further emphasized the PTDF’s commitment towards developing Technology in the gas which led to the establishment of the Gas Technology Development division under the Nigerian Content and Industry Collaboration Department of the Fund and so far, they have been having consultative forums and collaborations with stakeholders in the sector.

Clearly, Dr. Bello Gusau, has distinguished himself creditably well so far at PTDF, it is hoped he will continue on this track. It is also hoped that he will be fair to all in discharge of his duty.

Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Consultant and Researcher, Wrote in from Abuja; e-mail:oramekllis@lycos.ccom; 08056031187, 09039094636.

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