University undergraduates from the Niger Delta region will soon begin to enjoy scholarships from the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as an extension of its 8-year-old Foreign Post Graduate Scholarship Programme.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, announced this during the flag off of the donation of 9,600 desks and 9,600 chairs to public schools in Akwa Ibom State at the NDDC state office in Uyo. He explained that the exercise would entail the distribution of 72,000 desks and 72,000 chairs to schools in the nine mandate states of the Commission.
Speaking on the scholarship scheme, Ekere said that the NDDC had been investing massively in scholarship programmes for students seeking post graduate studies in schools all over the world.
He said that NDDC was considering intervening in under-graduate studies as well, stating that so far the scholarship programme had focused on post graduate studies. “We are still discussing and considering the need to intervene in the under-graduate studies, because there are some students that are intellectually alert and smart but they may not have the opportunity to benefit from the under-graduate education,” he said.
Ekere assured that the processes for the selection of graduates for the foreign scholarship programme would start early this year, to ensure that the beneficiaries were not delayed for the next academic year. He said: “We shall ensure that by May, all the processes required to be done to get our children ready to start the next academic year are concluded in good time.”
He regretted that a lot of schools in the region lacked basic infrastructure. “In some cases, the environment under which our children learn is very appalling and far from adequate. Some of the school blocks have no roofs and you see children learning under trees,” he lamented.
Ekere affirmed that NDDC had over the years been intervening in the renovation of school classroom blocks to redress the ugly situation. He stated: “In year 2017, we did a lot of interventions across the region, renovating secondary and primary schools. In Akwa Ibom state, a total of 115 schools were positively impacted in the renovation exercise that NDDC carried out.
“The NDDC state office in consultation with relevant stakeholders, and of course the Akwa Ibom state Ministry of Education will agree on a sharing formula and ensure that the desks and chairs were given to the schools that most need this intervention.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer cautioned that the assistance to the schools should not be misunderstood as it was meant to “positively help our children to have conducive environment to learn.
“In conjunction with the Akwa Ibom State Government and in proper consultation with them, these desks and chairs will be distributed to the schools that need them the most. This is an on-going programme.”
He stressed that NDDC had intervened positively and in several ways in Akwa Ibom State, noting that the impact of the interventions had been enormous. He observed: “NDDC has done a total of 960 projects in Akwa Ibom State. Out of this number, 494 have been completed at a total cost of N67.7 billion.
“We recognize the fact that Akwa Ibom State is the number one oil producing state in this country and that the state has contributed enormous resources to the NDDC fund. So, we shall ensure that the state gets its due number of projects.”
Ekere stated that NDDC would continue to take the education of children very seriously. According to him, “we know that education is the way of the future. It is the way we can safeguard our region and protect our children and actually help them not to go into vices like militancy and other criminal activities. I believe that a well-educated child is security for the future. So, we shall continue to intervene positively in educational activities of the children of the Niger delta region.”
In his own remarks, the Akwa Ibom State representative on the board of the NDDC, Hon Samuel Frank, said that intervention in the area of infrastructure was a necessary way of touching the lives of the people.
He re-stated the fact that NDDC was not competing with the state and local governments, but was rather complementing their efforts in the overall interest of the people.