By Anote Ajeluorou
At a time when Nigeria is desperately in need of skilled human resources to resolve many protracted national problems on economic, science, technology and engineering fronts, Delta State government has awarded scholarships worth N500m to 100 graduates of the state extraction.
The scholarship worth N5m each was awarded to graduates, who made first class in the 2013 set. The awardees are expected to study for their masters’ degrees, preferably in universities outside the country. The awards were recently handed out to the beneficiaries by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, in a ceremony held at the Government House, Asaba, the state capital.
In handing out the awards, Uduaghan said because of the intangible nature of the scholarship programme, it was hard to see their benefits at a glance unlike construction of roads, building of schools and other physical projects. But he assured of their multiplier effects in the long run saying, “You might not be able to measure the benefits of this programme. The benefits of this intangible programme might not be seen at a glance, but the multiplier effect is more than the roads constructed and other physical programmes of government. The intelligent quotient of a first class graduate is huge and society should not put impediments on such children in terms of finance. Out of thousands of graduates, only a few make first class. They can’t be in cults. First class requires a lot of discipline and hard work to be able to attain the zenith of their potentials.”
Managed by Delta State Bursary and Scholarship Board, the first class graduate scheme, among other scholarship schemes of the government, was introduced in 2010 by the present administration and had 26 initial beneficiaries. In 2011 and 2012, 47 and 49 graduates respectively benefitted. Year 2013 has the highest number of graduate applicants so far. Beneficiaries of the first set of 2010 have completed their masters’ degree programmes with some already pursuing their PhD programmes.
“The first sets have made us proud. We’re happy the programme is on and we are happy our children have been benefitting. So far, we have awarded scholarships to 233 first class graduates of Delta State origin. Scholarships cost a lot and there’s a lot of pressure on us to meet these aspirations. We will definitely meet up,” the governor stated.
Although Uduaghan will leave office in May, Delta State students hopeful of first class results have something to cheer about as the state chief executive said continuity of the scheme will take priority in his handover notes to his successor.
He advised, “Students, you’re not just getting this scholarship for yourselves. But you’re getting it also on behalf of Delta State and your parents. We allow young people to make their own choices; we don’t box them into a corner. We try not to force young people into specific areas, but we encourage them to be good ambassadors of the state and their parents.”
He showered praises on parents of the beneficiaries saying, “I thank parents very sincerely. For a child to earn a first class degree, it starts from home. So, I congratulate the parents for bringing up such children. Your children are those who will always take care of you at your old age. I urge every parent to build up a good society by properly bringing up their children. Those children who are kidnappers, armed robbers and pipeline vandals had challenges during their growing up. Fathers should do more than pay school fees; they should know their children’s classrooms, their mates in school and check their results because insecurity starts from the home, and parents have a responsibility to take care of their children.”
Earlier Commissioner for Higher Education, Mr. Charles Emetulu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Eric Osharieode, thanked Uduaghan for the scholarship initiative, saying the gesture was a clear demonstration of the state’s human capital development initiative and an improvement of intellectual development of citizens of the state.
He noted, “This kind gesture has helped in improving intellectual development in the state. Those who didn’t have the opportunity now do so. Reports indicate that the first and second sets are doing well and graduating as the best in their different programmes. We will continue to fund education heavily. Our beneficiaries, go and do us exploits but within the ambit of the law!”
The commissioner urged the governor to make funds available for the remaining 2014 batch and other scholarship schemes being funded by the state so as to put smiles of those faces as well.
While responding on behalf of the other beneficiaries Ms. Oke Dietake expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the state government saying, “In a society denied the dividends of democracy or good governance, this is something really great. We owe this to our governor and government. I’m glad that this scholarship would continue after now. I don’t want to tell my children that there used to be a scheme like this.
On our part, we will come up with an online community as a way giving back to Delta State, a measure of what we have been given here today.”