Some students in the Rivers State University have commended Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, for pledging to review the Niger Delta Development Commission’s (NDDC) foreign scholarships programme.
Akpabio had promised to review the foreign scholarship programme by using funds for the training of few students abroad to train thousands more students in Nigerian universities.
The students who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Wednesday described the planned review of the scholarship programme as a welcome development.
James Briggs, a 300-level student, said the move when implemented would reduce the burden on parents who could no longer afford tuition of their wards.
“I think the minister’s pronouncement is a huge relief to many of us especially during this time when people are really finding it difficult to survive,” she said.
Another student, Ijeoma Ebiti, said the foreign scholarship which was highly sought after, and with its limited number of openings, made it rather difficult to obtain.
“I have written the exams two times. I’m optimistic that I will get the scholarship when NDDC extends it to Nigerian universities,” the 200-level Mass Communication student said.
NAN recalls that Akpabio revealed the planned review when he addressed newsmen in Port Harcourt in preparation for the inauguration of the 13-floor N16 billion new NDDC office building.
He said that the decision to review the commission’s scholarship programme became necessary going by the millions of foreign currency spent to train few students abroad.
“Last year alone, NDDC spent about 12 million dollars to pay school fees for students overseas under its postgraduate scholarship scheme.
“Instead of spending 20,000 dollars to train one student per year abroad, we can use that same money to train more students in Nigerian universities that are doing well.
“We should not spend money to send students abroad to go and study English Language when we can use that same money to train hundreds or thousands in our local universities.
“We can only send students abroad on specialised courses and courses we don’t have in Nigeria,” he said.
Akpabio said that training students abroad was no longer ideal as most countries had introduced strict restrictions to check the COVID-19 pandemic.
The review, the minister said, was part of the many changes that would happen in NDDC when the forensic auditors submit their reports in a few months’ time.
“So, when you look at NDDC, it is not just the mismanagement of resources but also the corruption associated with its policies and operations,” he added. (NAN)