The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has presented award letters to 200 graduates from the Niger Delta region for its 2018 Post-Graduate Foreign Scholarship Programme.
According to a statement by the NDDC, during a pre-departure briefing and orientation at the Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, charged the scholars to be ambassadors of the Niger Delta region as they carry the flag of Nigeria to foreign lands.
The NDDC Managing Director, who was represented by the Director Special Duties, Dr Princewill Ekanim, said that the Foreign Post-Graduate Scholarship Programme was an important component of the Commission’s human capital development programme.
He said: “We recognise the need to bridge the huge manpower deficit in the Niger Delta region, especially in Engineering, Science and Technology, EST, the fields that drive the oil industry. Our aim is to build a pool of professionals that can compete at the global stage.”
Ekere noted that the programme which started in 2010 had so far benefited 1,904 students, mostly at the Masters’ Degree level. He said that about 4,000 candidates applied for this year’s programme, out of which 200 were selected.
The NDDC boss said: “Our scholars over the years have made outstanding results. In 2016, one of the beneficiaries in the masters’ programme, graduated as the overall best student at the Coventry University in the United Kingdom. In 2017, another beneficiary graduated with a distinction and was the best graduating student in the department as well as the entire post-graduate programme in environmental studies.”
Ekere advised the scholarship beneficiaries to avoid distractions so as to also excel in their studies. “We are sending you out to go and study and come back to impact the Niger Delta region and the entire Nigerian system for good. That is the essence of the scholarship programme,” he emphasised.
In his opening remarks, the NDDC Director for Education, Health and Social Services, Mr. Goshua Okejoto, urged the beneficiaries to make the best use of the opportunity given to them to acquire technical expertise for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region.
The EHSS director, who was represented by the deputy director, Mrs. Winifred Madume, reminded the beneficiaries that they owed the Niger Delta a duty to succeed. He added: “As you go to your various schools, conduct yourselves well as we expect excellent performance in all that you do.”
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the best Ph.D. awardee, Miss Mary Essien, thanked the NDDC for making the selection process fair and transparent. She pledged that they would do their best to be good ambassadors for the region.
The successful graduates for the 2018 post-graduate foreign scholarship programme had gone through electronic examination conducted at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, before a final selection interview.