The 210 beneficiaries of the 2014 Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Post-Graduate Foreign Scholarship Programme have received their award letters. The successful graduates from the 9 states in the Niger Delta were given pre-departure briefings and put through a formal orientation at a ceremony held on Wednesday at the Landmark Hotel in Port Harcourt.
Addressing the NDDC scholars, the Managing Director of the commission, Sir (Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia, charged them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria in the foreign universities by applying themselves studiously to their academic programmes, so as to excel in their chosen fields of study.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer, who was represented by Barr. Sunday Obiofiong, his Special Adviser on Administration and Human Resources, assured the scholars that funds for their school fees and accommodation would not be delayed for any reason. He told them that previous beneficiaries of the scholarship programme set enviable standards for them to emulate. “Those before you did not disappoint us and we trust that you too will make us proud by your conduct and academic achievements,” he said.
The NDDC Director for Education, Health and Social Services, Dr. Solomon Ita, stated that the Foreign Post- Graduate Scholarship Scheme, which was started 4 years ago, was meant to equip Niger Delta youths with relevant training and skills for effective participation in the local content programme of the Federal Government.
According to him, there was need to position young graduates from the region to compete globally in various professional fields, noting that before now, the oil and gas industry had discriminated against the fresh graduates whom they dismissed as not possessing requisite qualifications.
Dr. Ita stressed that the foreign scholarship scheme was designed to expose the graduates to other developed environments outside the country. “It is our belief that the skills they acquire will add value to the development in the Niger Delta. So far, we have been proved right as those that benefited from the programme in the previous years have justified the need for the advanced training programme,” he said.
He further said that since the inception of the scheme, the NDDC had trained 811 graduates at post-graduate level, noting that the commission had consistently sponsored 200 students to foreign universities to acquire Master’s and Doctorate degrees in science disciplines. Every year, he said, the number has increased to 210. He explained that emphasis was placed on science disciplines because a lot of gaps existed in the oil and gas sector, which made it difficult to employ young graduates from the region in that critical sector.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Stevyn Akosubo, a Bayelsa State indigene heading to Coventry University in the United Kingdom, said that the NDDC had given them an opportunity to widen their horizon in order to imbibe international best practices. “We owe our country and the Niger Delta, in particular, a duty to succeed,” he said.
Over 4, 000 graduates applied for this year’s post-graduate foreign scholarship programme, the successful ones were selected through a transparent electronic examination conducted at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.