“There are no beneficiaries from Bayelsa and Kaduna states where the President and Vice President come from.”
Two states, Ogun and Osun, have topped the list of the annual Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) with 17 and 15 respectively out of 104 beneficiaries.
The Supervising Minister for Education, Nyesom Wike, disclosed this at the award ceremony on Monday in Abuja.
He noted that the development was a sign of true leadership by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Wike stressed that the selection process was based purely on merit, adding that the process that produced the beneficiaries was rigorous, transparent and thorough.
He said the successful candidates, who went through the rigorous screening in the second edition of the awards, emerged tops out of about 2,000 candidates.
“I called out the names (of the two states) because they are not from states in the same party as the President.
“In fact, there are no beneficiaries from Bayelsa and Kaduna states where the President and Vice President come from. How many Nigerian leaders can do that?”
Osun and Ogun are controlled by the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
He said if federal character had been followed, as was being clamoured for by some people, many of the country’s top brains would have missed out from developing themselves and the country at large.
The minister urged them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, adding that the government would not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship if they were found culpable of any misconduct in the course of their studies.
Julius Okojie, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), said 90 per cent of beneficiaries from the first edition of PRESSID were currently in schools abroad and were doing very well in their various studies.
“This shows that our first class degrees are truly first class. It also shows that some of our private universities are coming up and do not just award first class degrees anyhow,” Okojie said.
He added that the scheme was introduced following the discovery that less than 40 per cent of lecturers in the university system had doctorate degrees.
It was also to produce a critical mass of individuals to develop Nigeria in the area of innovation and development.
According to him, India, China and Singapore are also practising the same system, adding that Nigeria will start to benefit in the next five years when the beneficiaries start graduating and returning home.
“There was no nomination from anywhere. This is the only scholarship scheme where the names of the awardees are published because they deserve it.’’
He said that the selection process was not influenced by anybody.
The beneficiaries, all first lass graduates, are to study in various fields, including medical sciences, information technology and electrical/electronics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, economics, physics and petroleum engineering.
The 76 males and 28 females will study for their Masters and Doctorate Degrees in the 25 best universities abroad.