Beneficiaries from Ogun and Osun States have topped the lists of the second edition of the Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) with 17 and 15 respectively out of 104 awardees.
The Supervising Minister for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, disclosed this during the award ceremony in Abuja yesterday where he added that the development was a sign of true leadership by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I called out the names because they are not from states in the same party as the president. In fact, there is no beneficiaries from Bayelsa and Kaduna States where the president and vice-president hail from. How many Nigerian leaders can do that?” he asked.
Wike again emphasised that the selection process was based purely on merit and merit alone, adding that the beneficiaries underwent a thorough and rigorous screening process before emerging tops out of about 2000 candidates.
He added that if federal character had been followed as being clamoured for in some quarters, many of the candidates would not have benefited from the scheme.
Wike urged them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria and added that the government would not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship if any act of misconduct is discovered or reported.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, speaking earlier said 90 per cent of the beneficiaries from the first edition of PRESSID are currently in schools abroad and are doing very well in their 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, and to produce a critical mass of individuals to develop Nigeria in the area of innovation and development.
The style, he said was adopted by India, China and Singapore several years ago, adding that Nigeria would start to benefit in the five years time when the beneficiaries start returning.
Okojie emphasised that the award was based purely on merit and was not influenced by any individual or group.
“There was no nomination from anywhere. This is the only scholarship scheme where the names of the awardees are published, because they are deserving. Nobody came to meet us to do anything, your fate is in your hands,” he said.
The beneficiaries who would study for masters’ and doctoral degrees in the 25 best universities abroad comprises 76 males and 28 females.