The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, has laid emphasis on need for Nigerian universities and oil and gas industry to come together for increased and sustained synergy such that would harness noticeable gains in implementation of Nigerian content agenda in petroleum sector.
Baru, while delivering speech at 23rd, 24th & 25th combined Convocation Lecture of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ABTU) in Bauchi State over during the week, noted that the Ivory Tower and Industry must seek workable and symbiotic partnership for the good of the institution and the growth of the Industry.
He said that stakeholders must provide answers to riddles incuding collaboration between university and industry work and that of failure of partnerships meant to yield desired result.
He added that there was need for the concerned people in the industry to find out about companies and their academic partners successfully overcome their inherent differences and what forge a higher level of strategic partnership.
The NNPC’s boss reported that studies conducted on European Universities-Business Cooperation undertaken by a French group proven that it requires strong university leadership, and a faculty that understands business, to emplace incentives and structures for academics to bridge that gap, overcome the cultural divide and make collaboration work.
According to him, the report also argued that the European universities could significantly increase their attractiveness to industry by making industry partnerships a clear priority and by attracting and developing a pool of academics who have worked in industry before.
” The interplay of the role of the university, which includes undertaking scientific research, incubation of technology and breeding of high skilled manpower with that of industry’s promotion of innovation, are both necessary to enhancing the Nigerian Content policy in the oil and gas industry.
To him, executives and academics managing partnerships must agree on the core elements needed to make a partnership work, noting that leadership, vision and determination are the most essential ingredients in this regard.
In hi explanation, university leadership needs to consider making collaboration with industry a top priority and communicate the message regularly to the entire academic community and to captains of industry whenever the opportunities arise.
“They should headhunt and attract retired industry experts into their fold and get them to teach, research, co-mingle and rub minds thereby achieving what the European researchers advocated as a way to getting maximum university-Industry collaborations, ’’ he said.
Baru indicated that Nigerian Content practice had become fully institutionalized as a National Development imperative which redefined and opened up new frontiers for national economic growth and social stability in the Oil & Gas Industry, there is still a yearning gap to close in respect of instituting sustainable development innovation.
“Strategic partnerships need input at the highest level from both the company and the university. A joint steering team with senior academics and company executives with built-in flexibility is required to sustain long-term strategic partnerships that work best”.
The GMD noted that the first step to a healthy partnership is assessing the core academic strengths of the university and the core research opportunities of the company to identify prospects for collaboration based on shared vision among other measures.
‘’I will recommend that ATBU leadership sets up a university-Industry consultative forum with advisory board from selected industry sectors where they are well positioned to develop partnerships and seek endorsement of institutions across the nation to kick start a sustained dialogue as the first step,’’ Dr. Baru said.
However, the NNPC’s boss urged graduating students to embrace entrepreneurship, noting that the future belongs to innovators who do not need going through the labour market to survive.
Commending the NNPC GMD for his incisive thoughts and presentation, Vice Chancellor, ATBU, Prof. Saminu Ibrahim, said that the institution was ready to pick up the gauntlet and forge a workable university-industry relationship with the NNPC, especially in the areas of ongoing oil exploration in the in-land sedimentary basin.
The VC noted that the proximity of ATBU to the Chad and Gongola basins offered it immense advantage over other institutions in this regard.