The House of Representatives Committee on Education, yesterday wrote to the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, on the controversy surrounding the recently released list of successful candidates for this year’s Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID).
Our reporters reliably learnt that the House committee, in the letter signed by its Chairman, Rep Aminu Suleiman, asked the Commission to send to the House a compiled list of candidates who applied for the scheme and those candidates who sat for the examinations.
The letter further requested the Commission to also include marks obtained by each of the candidates at the end of the exercise, and how the Committee arrived at the result.
The Commission’s spokesman, Malam Ibrahim Yakasai, when contacted by one of our reporters yesterday, confirmed that the Commission had received the letter, but did not give details of its content.
He said the House had asked the Commission some questions and the latter had provided the information, therefore, there was no need for the NUC to make any further public statement.
The House committee, according to our findings, expects an urgent response from the Commission, in view of the importance of the issue at stake.
The committee has pledged to do a thorough investigation into allegations of lopsidedness in the selection of the 104 awardees, out of which only seven were from the North, and no person was chosen from the North-west and North-east geopolitical zones. The committee said it will dig to unravel foul play, if any, in the selection process.
Although the PRESSID chairman, Prof. Okojie was billed to appear before the committee yesterday in furtherance of the investigations into the award, the committee chairman told newsmen that the meeting had been shifted to June 5, at the request of the NUC.
It would be recalled that the House, last week, stopped the NUC from going ahead with the process of awarding the presidential scholarships to the successful candidates, following criticisms that trailed the list released by the Commission.
It ordered that the exercise must be put on hold until further investigation on the matter was carried out.
The chairman of the committee said what happened in the selection process negated the provisions of the Constitution relating to Federal Character principles.
Rep. Aminu said the NUC boss had tried to interpret the provisions of Section 14 of the Constitution by saying that the scholarship scheme was not part of that provisions of the Constitution.
However, Okojie, insisted that due process was followed in the selection of the successful candidates, whom he said, had met the minimum requirements for the scheme initiated by President Goodluck Jonathan.
It would be recalled that 2000 candidates applied for the scheme but only 623 candidates sat for the screening examination of the second edition of the scheme on December 10, 2013.
The candidates applied for selected programmes into engineering, technology, sciences, basic medical sciences, medicine and economics, among other fields where the country was experiencing shortfalls.
In line with the guidelines of the scheme, successful candidates will apply to study in any of the top 25 universities in the world approved for the scheme as indicated on the NUC’s website.
The essence of the scheme is to train professionals to drive the transformation agenda of the present administration and help realize the goals of the Vision 20:2020.
See Page 4 for special
report on the controversy