Delta State govt boosts human capital development with N500 million scholarships award
By Anote Ajeluorou
At a time when Nigeria is desperately in need of skilled human resources to resolve many protracted problems on the economic, science and technology and engineering fronts, Delta State government has blazed a shinning trail by awarding scholarships worth N5 million each to 100 graduates of the state extraction who made first class in its 2013 set. The awardees are expected to study for their master degrees, preferably in universities outside the country. The awards were handed out to the graduates by the state’s chief executive Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in a colourful ceremony held on Monday at Government House, Asaba, the state capital. In handing out the awards, Uduaghan said because of the intangible nature of the scholarship programmes, 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 IQ of a first class graduate is huge and society should not put impediment on that child 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 government, was introduced in 2010 by the present administration and had 26 beneficiaries in as first set. In 2011 and 2012, 47 and 49 graduates respectively benefitted. 2013 has the highest number of graduate applicants so far. The first set of 2010 has completed their master degrees with some already in their Ph.D programmes. A proud Uduaghan said, “The first sets have made us proud. We’re happy the programme is on; we’re 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”. Although Uduaghan will leave office in May, Delta State students hopeful of first class results have something to cheer about. Uduaghan said continuity of the scheme will take priority in his handover notes to his successor, who he hoped would be a PDP governor, noting that PDP was noted for giving scholarships even at the national level, where President Goodluck Jonathan also recently in Lagos awarded some 24 young Nigerians with first class results scholarships. To the awardees Uduaghan 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 you to be good ambassadors of the state and your parents”. To parents who came with their children for the ceremony, Udaghan also had these kind words. “I thank parents very sincerely. For a child to be first class starts from home; I congratulate the parents for bringing up such children. Your children are your pensions 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 a challenge in their upbringing. Parents should endeavour to know the schools of their children. Fathers should do more than pay school fees; they should know their children’s classrooms, their mates in school and check their results. Insecurity starts from the home. 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 governor 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 Uduaghan, saying, “This is really humbling to be here today. In a society denied the dividends of democracy or good governance, this is something really great. This is an opportunity to pursue to one’s heart’s desire. 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 for us to give back to Delta a measure of what we have been given here today”.