The 43 young Nigerians whose post-graduate scholarship awards were cancelled by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, have been asked to undergo a new selection process.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the awardees had been left in a state of shock after the awards were withdrawn by the agency which had cited the paucity of funds for the development.
The applicants who applied in 2016/2017 exercise had their dreams cut short as the offers awarded to them after successfully navigating the months-long intensive selection process were withdrawn by NITDA under circumstances the applicants claimed were unclear and unsettling.
But in an apparent move to calm frayed nerves, the agency on Friday sent a letter by email to the applicants inviting them to take part in the 2017/2018 exercise.
The letter obtained by PREMIUM TIMES said that a committee had been set up to handle their matter and that they (43 awardees) would not be expected to take part in processes for the award such as verification of credentials, supplementary assessment, evaluation of character, etc.
The letter signed by Eniola A.A. on behalf of the Director General, reads: “I’m directed to inform you that the Director General/CEO has already constituted a committee to conduct interviews (which includes Verification of Credentials, Supplementary Assessment Test, Evaluation of Character etc) towards accommodating you as part of the 2017/2018 NITDEF Scholarship Scheme.
“Accordingly, you will be contacted next week for the date and time of the interview. However, please note that no award letter has been issued to anyone and none of the previous stages of exercise will be repeated.”
The letter did not however explain how the 43 already successful candidates would be accommodated in a scheme that attracts thousands of applicants on a yearly basis.
One of the applicants who pleaded not to be named to avoid victimisation, told this newspaper that he was not impressed with the development.
‘‘The letter they (NITDA) sent to us this evening shows that they are jokers. We will continue to push until they do the right thing,” he said.
The applicants have since formed a WhatsApp group to push home their demands that their scholarships be restored.
Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA, Hadiza Umar, had said the decision was “necessitated due to serious budget deficit experienced in the Agency’s 2016 budget year which the scheme was appropriated for but no money was released to fund it.”
The statement added that the agency has made the appropriation for the scheme in its 2017 budget year, consequently, a new selection process will be announced soon.
The scholarship scheme is aimed at promoting competency and proficiency amongst Nigerians in Information Technology at doctorate and masters Levels. It is a form of support towards assisting such Nigerians with funding to achieve their educational aspirations.
The scheme usually selects two persons per state, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT at masters’ level and 1 person per geo-political zone of the country at doctorate level.
The agency on its website claims to have ‘successfully sponsored 247 Nigerian graduates in Information Technology fields at post graduate level and 24 for doctorate.
It also said that it is ‘continually monitoring skill gaps in the field with a view to help create a capable workforce that can face the challenges of the Agency’s vision of Nigeria becoming an Information Technology driven economy.