As part of the unfolding reforms initiated by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration in the education sector, all is set for the mounting of a Department of Chemical Engineering at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, in partnership with Tianjin University, China’s oldest higher institution.
According to the governor, the partnership with the Chinese university, is targeted at promoting Research and Development (R&D) and the strengthening of capacity at institutions of higher learning in Edo State. The new department, which is expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2019, is an offshoot of the deal for the state’s 5,500 barrels per day (bpd) Modular Refinery Project which will be established in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of the state.
The state government has already approved a N700m seed fund for the project, which will pave way for the construction of the first refinery project in the state. The modular refinery is to be built by a Chinese consortium, comprising Peiyang Chemical Equipment Company of China (PCC), a world-leading modular refinery company; Sinopec International Petroleum Service Corporation (SIPS) which is a subsidiary of Sinopec, the top Chemical giant in the world and African Infrastructure Partners (AIP), a Nigerian infrastructural company.
Confirming that modalities are being fine-tuned for the take-off of the department at AAU, Ekpoma, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, said that the institution is concluding plans for the kick-off of the department. According to him, “We have created several more functional departments including the Department of Business Education and Human Nutrition and Dietetics. We have in the pipeline a Department of Chemical Engineering which is expected to take off early 2019, as soon as the nitty-gritty of linkage with a Chinese University is concluded.”
The governor has inaugurated a new Governing Council to lead its new vision for AAU, Ekpoma and has assured to provide the required resources to strengthen the institution’s capacity to produce quality manpower for Edo State and Nigeria. Experts see the new council as playing a huge role in paving the way for the mounting of the new department, which will ensure a surfeit of human resources for the project, as a component of the deal is a training programme for indigenes of the state to develop capacity in the petrochemical industry.
Explaining the circumstances that led to the setting up of the department in partnership with the Chinese university, Governor Obaseki, during the sealing of deal in China, said that the department is an added benefit of the modular refinery project. According to him, “the university programme is an added benefit to the modular refinery deal which final investment agreement was signed in Beijing. “The programme will build technical manpower for the oil and gas industry in line with the federal government’s policy on local capacity development in the sector. The idea is to develop technical manpower and set industry standards in the oil and gas sector.”