Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, has directed the immediate payment of all outstanding scholarship fees for beneficiaries of the 2016 NDDC Overseas Post-Graduate Scholarship.
According to a statement by the Head, NDDC Corporate Affairs, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, on Tuesday, Ekere, at a meeting in Port Harcourt, expressed unhappiness that beneficiaries of the scheme were facing hardship due to delays in remitting both the tuition fees and upkeep allowances and called on them to submit their bank details to the commission immediately.
The NDDC MD disclosed that only 32, out of 200 beneficiaries, have so far submitted their personal international bank information and promised to pay them immediately.
“I am very unhappy about this needless delays and the untold hardship our scholars are going through right now. This is not acceptable. They are our children. They represent the future manpower and professionals that we are building to help transform the Niger Delta region and we cannot afford to allow them go through this kind of suffering”, he said.
He declared that the new NDDC Governing Board and Management were determined to improve all governance, project and programme implementation protocols within the commission and reaffirmed “the commitment to doing what is right and proper at all times.”
A total of 200 scholars emerged out of 4,300 applicants from a highly competitive process. NDDC Overseas Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme, which included a computer based examination and oral interview, is worth $30,000 each, covering both tuition fees and up keep allowances.
A breakdown of the 32 beneficiaries shows that 21 are in United Kingdom universities, six in American universities, three in Canadian universities, and one each in Malaysia and Russia. While 20 of the 32 are pursuing master’s degree programmes in various science and Technology courses, 12 are PhD scholars in similar fields.
However, Ekere disclosed that NDDC would pay each beneficiary an additional N500,000.00 to cover their local expenditure in Nigeria, adding, “This includes their visa fees and transportation costs.”
The NDDC MD also announced the appointment of Mr Anietie Usen, Director, Commercial & Industrial Development of the commission, to head a special committee tasked with reviewing and overhauling the implementation of the scholarship scheme and directed the immediate creation of a help desk for all inquiries.
“The help desk will help ease communication and provide important and prompt responses to inquiries concerning the scholarship scheme”, Ekere added.