The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has assured that it would not abandon the beneficiaries of its scholarship foreign scholarship programme in the United Kingdom and Canada.
The Acting Managing Director of the commission, Prof. Keme Pondei, said NDDC would meet all its financial obligations to the beneficiaries.
A statement signed by the commission’s Director, Public Affairs, Charles Odili, said Pondei, who spoke in Port Harcourt, insisted that all persons awarded scholarships by the commission should entertain no fear.
Pondei said: “We are obliged to meet all the terms of the scholarship because we cannot send people out of the country and not pay their fees.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure that the beneficiaries of the postgraduate scholarship progamme are paid. We have had meetings in the past two days, specifically on the matter of the scholars, to see how their problems can be alleviated.
“It is a very difficult situation and I have been in that situation before. So, I know what it means to be hounded by the universities for fees and for you not to have a living allowance to feed properly and pay your rents.”
Describing the scholarship programme as laudable, Pondei said that the NDDC Interim Management Committee (IMC) would continue with it.
He explained that once the outstanding fees were settled, the commission would embark on fresh recruitment adding that the programme had not been suspended.
Pondei stressed that beyond the physical infrastructure provided by the NDDC to improve the living conditions of the people, it must not neglect human capital development which would ensure sustainable livelihoods to Niger Deltan.
He explained that the foreign scholarship scheme started in 2010, with the objectives to bridge the gap in the management cadre of the oil and gas sector through human capital development.
He said: “We might not be able to calculate the gains of the programme directly, but everybody who has gone and brought back to this country even a little change would have made an impact. Such programmes should be encouraged, while we tone down on the ones that have been abused, especially emergency projects.
“We should dwell on the positives and not be distracted by the negatives, so that we can deliver on our mandate to the people of the Niger Delta region.”