The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in 2010, introduced and funded a post graduate foreign scholarship programme to qualified indigenes of the Niger Delta region. The scheme was borne out of the need to
bridge the top level professional and technical manpower deficit in the region, especially in engineering, medical sciences, geosciences, computer science and technology, oil and gas, law as well as projects management, which are the fields that drive the oil and gas industry.
In essence, the principal objective for the introduction of the NDDC's post graduate foreign scholarship programme was to concentrate on certain specialized areas of study and properly develop professional manpower.
Regrettably, however, the laudable scheme which 1,409 students had benefitted from, was cancelled, because of some human-induced challenges which the commission's previous management could not quickly resolve.
The scheme, which gives beneficiaries some 30,000 United States dollars was confronted with challenges -- Some criminally-minded humans were using it to defraud the federal government. This was easy, because all genuine NDDC scholarship beneficiaries were being paid in foreign currency.
These persons pretended to be NDDC scholars when, indeed, they were not, but were getting the money.
Secondly, there were lots of discrepancies in the way and manner the scholarship programme was being administered. The commission awards scholarships for studies abroad, but monies were paid to persons who were still in Nigeria.
Also, there were cases where people got admission for certain specialized courses in certain universities, but some of them will go to different universities for different programmes other than the courses the scholarship is for.
So, on assumption of office, the Managing Director of NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, and his team decided to tackle the identified problems. And, tackle, they did.
So, having established the challenges, the new management set up a committee to examine and try to resolve the issues.
Consequently, within two weeks of setting up a committee to address the challenges, all outstanding tuition disbursements were made to those genuine NDDC scholars that had no issues.
Ekere recently sympathized with the honest scholars who were caught up in the wave of the delays, while assuring that where genuine cases were identified, they would be expressly treated.
Moreover, he promised to revive and sustain the funding of the NDDC's post graduate foreign scholarship scheme, stressing that, the commission would not abandon any of the scholars.
"We shall release the funds to NDDC scholars as soon as possible, “Ekere said.
Meanwhile, the NDDC management has called for new applications from qualified indigenes of the region for the 2018 foreign scholarship programme.
It might take time to comprehensively restructure and/or reform the NDDC's post graduate foreign scholarship scheme which a lot of persons abused , but the governing board and management looks prepared to change the narrative.