Controversy is trailing Delta State Government’s decision last week to scrap the ‘First Class Scholarship Scheme’, initiated by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The programme, which targeted 100 brilliant indigent students annually, is worth N5million per student, and affords first class graduate beneficiaries opportunities to continue their educational pursuits up to doctorate level in any course and country of their choice.
But the present administration, citing paucity of fund, suspended the programme, prompting Olorogun Jaro Egbo, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress ( APC ), and other critics to call out the government. Egbo particularly slammed the decision, and advised Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to sack his “5,321” aides to fund it.
A terse letter dated September 27 from the Delta State Bursary and Scholarship Board, said the government’s decision to scrap the programme was due to “financial downturn in the state.”
The board’s Executive Secretary, Elijah Ologe, signed the letter titled ‘To whom it may concern’, and read in part: “due to the economic situation bedeviling the state, the scheme is hereby suspended.”
Ologe said that although the board was aware that most of the beneficiaries “solely rely on the scholarship to pay their tuitions and other fees”, government had to scrap it because the state could no longer fund it.
The announcement has however received stern backlash from beneficiaries and the opposition in the state, with respondent accusing the governor of misplaced priorities and lack of vision.
“Okowa stopped payment of scholarship; diverts money (instead) to the payment of 5,321 SA’s. Smart government indeed,” Egbo stated sarcastically in reference to Governor Okowa’s ‘SMART Agenda’.
Mr Toju Gedu of the Committee of Itsekiri Social Media Advocate regretted the development, stressing, “This was another laudable programme by the Dr. E. Uduaghan administration; I have two friends who are doctorate degree holders now.”