By Lawrence Olaoye
A member of the House of Representatives from Esit-Eket/Eket/Onna/Ibeno Federal Constituency, in the House of Representatives, Hon Bassey Dan-Abia Jnr (PDP Akwa Ibom) yesterday described as a sham the final list of the 254 selected candidates for the Special Scholarship Programme released by the Office of Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta (OSAPND).
Dan-Abia in his condemnation of the list of beneficiaries made public by OSAPND last Friday accused Kingsley Kuku, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, of nepotism in the selection of the beneficiaries.
The special scholarship scheme coordinated by OSAPND was put together to assist brilliant students in the oil producing states to acquire university education and is available only to those who recorded the least minimum cut off mark of 180 at the University matriculation examination conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
The lawmaker in a press statement personally signed by him yesterday said the choice of the beneficiaries of the programme was skewed against his state, Akwa Ibom un-justifiably while other states were unduly favoured.
Akwa Ibom, the biggest oil producing state in the country, was allotted only three slots in the programme while other states like Ondo State, Kuku’s the home state, was allotted 43 slots.
In the list advertised in two national newspapers on Friday, Benue state got one slot, Cross River got 3 slots, Bayelsa state got 101 slots, Delta state got 55 slots, Edo states got 10 slots, Imo state got 10 slots, while River state 28 slots.
His words; “I wait to be educated on why Akwa Ibom state, the largest contributor to the nation’s oil wealth was so treated. Is the office of Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta telling Nigerians that only three persons from Akwa Ibom state scored 180 and above in the last JAMB examination? Is it that not a single girl of Akwa Ibom origin scored as much as 180 in the examination?
“Take a look at the advertised list of beneficiaries and you will see that some beneficiaries picked from other states scored as low as the minimum 180 marks in the JAMB examination while the least of the three selected from Akwa Ibom scored 211 marks.
“I wait to hear from those saddled with the selection process to tell the whole world if there are no other candidates from Akwa Ibom who also scored 180 marks in the examination.
“Even though, the handlers of the scheme want the nation to believe that the programme is meant strictly for students who sat for JAMB and passed the examination, I also notice that a student from Edo state who obtained Direct Entry form was allotted a slot on the scheme while two others from Ondo State were also given the privilege.
“I seek concrete explanations on behalf of my people, why Akwa Ibom state should be so brazenly cheated in a scheme of which the source of funding is mainly from the soil of the state.
“What is the volume of Ondo State’s contribution to oil wealth that the state should be given preference far and above Akwa Ibom state in the scholarship scheme?