By Favour Nnabugwu & Aminat Amuda
President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i to select top 25 universities in the world for 101 qualified candidates of the annual presidential scholarship test.
The minister disclosed this in Abuja during the presentation of the certificate to the awardees. She said the presidential scholarship scheme for innovation and development (PRESSID) was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria as part of government’s efforts geared towards achieving Vision 20:2020 goals which would be achieved through the sponsorship of outstanding students for post graduate studies in the top 25 universities in the world.
Beneficiaries of the scholarships are first class students of government recognised and approved universities in the disciplines of Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Special Aspects of Biology, Economics, Engineering and Technology, as well as Medicine.
The awardees who are expected to study in the 25 best universities of the world up to Master’s and PhD levels, ‘are between 21 and 30 years of age, 20 female and 81 male among them is one physically challenged candidate.
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 1,300 applicants registered on the electronic portal for the scholarship scheme and 449 were invited for a computer-based test and the results released instantly to avoid any form of manipulation.
She advised the recipients to be of good behaviour as the Federal Government “will not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship if at any point we discover any act of misconduct.
“The scope of the offer includes tuition, accommodation, and eating, return flight tickets, living expenses and local travels, apart from “the actual breakdown and other special conditions, will be contained in another letter to be issued,” she said.
The minister further said that all the candidates performed very well but regretted that the maiden edition of the presidential scholarship was limited.
She stated, “They have all demonstrated extreme intelligence judging by their performance in the examination conducted and other certificates they were presented. I have no doubt in my mind that the seed that is being sown today will yield tremendous benefit for Nigeria.”
She, however, urged those who were not selected not to lose hope but continue to excel in whatever they engaged in. She advised the selected candidates to be God-fearing, humble, law abiding and show exemplary behaviour as they are representing Nigeria.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius Okojie said the programme is very competitive and open to everybody.
He went further to say that there is no problem about funding the candidates as the Federal Government is known to keep its words.
He urged the awardees to take the advantage of the opportunity given to them because they are the first set to benefit from the exercise.
While speaking with one of the awardees Miss Anarado Ijeoma expresses her sincere appreciation to the Federal Government for the opportunity given to them. She declared that their greatest fear is abandonment. “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”.