After much delay, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has finally paid the school fees and other entitlements to its stranded scholarship students abroad.
This was disclosed in a statement by the NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, saying $5.9million was paid to 197 scholarship beneficiaries of 2019.
Odili further said the commission had commenced processes for the payment of 94 2018 beneficiaries of the scheme.
He said “Among the 197 beneficiaries are 43 scholars for Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, comprising 12 for 2016 and 31 for 2019. This category got $30,000 each, amounting to $1,290,000.
“The Masters category has 154 MSC beneficiaries of 2019, who were paid $30,000 each, amounting to $4, 420,000. The payment processes for 94 beneficiaries of 2018; 40 for Ph.D. and 54 for MSC, are ongoing.
“We salute the doggedness of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who got approval from the Presidency for the payments.
“We wish to state again that the delay in the remittance of the fees was caused by the sudden death of Chief Ibanga Etang, the then Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration (EDFA).”
He said under the commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) could sign release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He added: “The NDDC foreign scholars represent the future manpower and professionals that we are building to help transform the Niger Delta region.
“They are the people whose professional competences and exposure will fill the gaps in the oil and gas industry; as well as in infrastructure development.
“We have always said that beyond physical infrastructure, we have a duty to also develop the human capital that will ensure sustainable livelihoods to the people of the Niger Delta.
“The foreign scholarship scheme started in 2010, with the objective to bridge the gap in the management cadre of the oil and gas sector of the Niger Delta region and address the dearth of qualified professionals in the sector”.