By Maryam Garba Hassan
Despite the on-going controversy surrounding list of candidates that made it to this year’s Presidential Special Scholarship Innovation Scheme (PRESSID) and the order given to the National Universities Commission, NUC, by the House of Representative to stop the presentation of letters to the successful candidates, the federal government on Monday went ahead to announce winners of the scheme and presented them with letters.
The beneficiaries, who are 104 in number, aged between 20-22, all having First-class honours in selected disciplines, will be undergoing different courses in the Masters and Doctorate degrees.
Presenting certificates to the beneficiaries, Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, said this is the first time Nigeria is having a programme whose selection process is purely on merit.
He said the 28 females and 76 males who made it to this year’s list all demonstrated extreme intelligence, judging by their performance.
Congratulating the 629 shortlisted candidates, Wike expressed regret, saying “it is unfortunate that we could not award the scholarships to all of the successful candidates because of cost”.
Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie disclosed that out of 2000 entries received, 104 were finally selected after a highly competitive process which was purely on merit.
He said the last NEEDS assessment of the universities report revealed that only 7 universities have up to 60% of their academic staff with PhD degrees, adding that he is optimistic that the scheme will help to increase the number of PhDs in Nigeria’s university system.
The beneficiaries are to study in USA, UK and Canada Australia and will major in disciplines such as sciences, basic medical sciences, special aspects of biology, economics, engineering and technology and medicine.