BY EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA—President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, ordered the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, to select top 25 universities in the world where the 101 candidates who passed the maiden annual presidential scholarship test could study for their Masters degrees and Phds.
The minister disclosed disclosed this at the presentation of certificate to the awardees in Abuja.
She said the presidential scholarship scheme for innovation and development, PRESSID, was instituted by the Federal Government as part of government’s efforts towards achieving Vision 20:2020 goals.
Beneficiaries of the scholarships are first class students of government recognised and approved universities in Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Special Aspects of Biology, Economics, Engineering and Technology, as well as Medicine.
The awardees, including 20 females and 81 males, one of who is a physically challenged candidate, are between 21 and 30 years of age.
The minister said: “It is important to note that all the 449 short-listed candidates performed very well but it is unfortunate that in this maiden edition of the presidential scholarship scheme, there are limited spaces’ and only 101 candidates were taken.”
She also revealed that 1300 applicants registered on the electronic portal for the scholarship scheme and that 449 were invited for a computer-based test, adding that the results were released instantly to avoid any form of manipulation.
She advised the recipients to be of good behaviour as the federal government would not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship if they were found wanting.
“The scope of the offer includes tuition, accommodation,and heating, return flight tickets, living expenses and local travels’ even though ‘the actual breakdown and other special conditions. Will be contained in another letter to be issued,” she said.
Speaking on the occasion, National University Commission’s Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Okojie, said the programme was very competitive and opened to every qualified person.
He said there was no problem about funding the candidates as the Federal Government wasknown for its words.
He urged the awardees to take advantage of the opportunity given them as they were the first set to benefit from the scheme.
One of the awardees, Miss Anarado Ijeoma expressed her sincere appreciation to the Federal Government for the opportunity given them.
She declared that their greatest fear is abandonment in the course of the programme, saying “we plead with the Federal Government to fulfill its promises; we don’t want them to abandon us overseas, we want the Federal Government to be fully concerned with our welfare.”