The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it has resumed the suspended scholarship scheme for youths in the Niger Delta as part of efforts to eradicate poverty.
Udengs Eradiri, special adviser to Efiong Akwa, NDDC interim administrator, announced the development on Friday in commemoration of the International Youth Day.
The scholarship scheme, established in 2010, is designed to produce top level professionals with technical manpower, capacity and expertise to compete in oil and gas industry and in other sectors.
However, the scheme has suffered some setback over the years.
In 2017, it was suspended “to allow the commission to carry out a comprehensive restructuring of the scheme”.
In 2018, the agency announced the resumption of the programme.
In 2020, scholars who were on the scholarship programme in the UK took to the streets of London to protest non-payment of their tuition fees and allowances.
The commisson, however, accused the protesting scholars of “mischief”, saying it had spent $5.9 million to offset outstanding entitlements owed the students, and was only being “blackmailed” to make additional payments without verification.
The scheme was subsequently suspended by the commission.
In his statement titled ‘Message of Hope on International Youth Day 2022’, Eradiri said the ongoing Niger Delta ‘Talent Hunt’ would discover and empower talented youths in the region.
He said other empowerment activities for youths include: grassroots football competition and agricultural training.
He also asked the youths to shun all forms of violence ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“The pain we feel today is our strength for tomorrow as we navigate through difficult times in our beloved land,” he said.
“Let’s all rise against primordial sentiments and continue to work hard in a peaceful manner to better our country.
“Our region, the Niger Delta, is so blessed with natural resources, professionals and talented vibrant youths who are pushing through by the day to build the Niger Delta of our dreams.
“Today, I make bold to say that at the Niger Delta Development Commission, we are doing a lot to eradicate poverty from the land.
“Recently, the portal for the scholarship programme has been opened, and the ongoing Niger Delta Talent Hunt will discover many talents from the region; the grassroots football competition, agricultural training and other laudable projects that will position us in the path of greatness.
“I also seize this chance to plead that we shun violence during the forthcoming elections, but rather participate in the process that will bring about the much desired leadership that will further improve the existing infrastructures and developmental goals.
“Let us prove to the world that we are a people who God has blessed and are willing to set a legacy for future generations.”