•How MTN Foundation put smiles on indigent, blind students with N1.5bn scholarship award
By Gabriel Dike
The MTN Foundation has splashed over N1.5 billion between 2009 and 2017 as scholarship award to 7,717 indigent science and technology students nationwide and another N147 million on 737 blind students in different public higher institutions in the country
This news was dropped at the inauguration of MTN Foundation Alumni conference for graduates’ beneficiaries of the telecommunication giant scholarship award. It was also an opportunity for the students and stakeholders to shower encomiums on the communication firm for investing on the host communities.
The colourful ceremony held in Lagos attracted stakeholders such as Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Dr. Pascal Dozie, chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, top officials of the telecommunication firm, Minister of Youths and Sport, represented by a Deputy Director in his ministry, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, Provost of Special College of Education, Oyo, Director of MTNF, Dr, Denis Okoro, representatives of institutions and graduate beneficiaries from South West.
For many of the indigent and blind graduates, without the MTNF scholarship award, it would have been difficult to continue or to complete their higher education. Some of the graduates’ beneficiaries including some blind students in the documentaries showed on the screen at the event confirmed that the scholarship was helpful as it enabled them to fund their university education. At the completion of their education, some of the students were engaged by the telecommunication giant.
Addressing the gathering, the chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi, said through the event, they are also taking a stand against youth unemployment, which he disclosed is one of the key challenges facing graduates of today.
He cited an example of the hardship indigent undergraduate students face in pursuing or completing their career with the case of Chukwudi Ohaka who gained admission into University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) to read engineering but who had to work for about three years to save the initial N50, 000 to register and pay fees as an entry-level student of the university. Subsequently, he went through a rough time trying to get through the first year.
Then in his second year, he applied and was selected for the MTNF scholarship and from then on his story changed. “Receiving the award helped him reduce the financial pressure on his mother and to ensure that he completed his studies successfully,” Adelusi-Adeluyi said. “On graduation, he was accepted by MTN Nigeria, where he currently works as a staff.’’
According to him, stories like Chukwudi’s justifies the quest by MTNF to help write the success stories of several brilliant but indigent students across Nigeria. He then urged the graduates to take advantage of the platform to connect, collaborate and to be commited to the development of both themselves and the nation. He disclosed that for the graduates to have received MTNF scholarship, it is an indication that they possess several qualities that would help ensure a successful career, whether in an organization or in business.
Adelusi-Adeluyi expressed his hope that MTNF would continue to impact on the lives of the people stating that Corporate Social Investment (CSI) remains an integral part of the telecommunication giant’s DNA. He disclosed that over N16 billion has been invested in 550 project sites across the country adding that “we will continually strive to put smiles on the faces of people in communities throughout Nigeria.’’
Chairman of MTN, Dr. Pascal Dozie disclosed that the graduates who benefitted from the MTNF scholarship are doing well in different fields and added that they maintained their academic grades which enabled them to collect the scholarship award worth N200,000, while some were engaged by the telecommunication giant. He urged them to take advantage of the alumni platform to build national network to exchange ideas even as he tasked MTNF to develop an alumni directory for the graduates that would serve as a reference point.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development who was represented by Deputy Director in the ministry, Dr. Mariyam Abdulahi, lauded MTN for investing in the social economic development of the country as well as extending support to youths. Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Idiat Adebule, representing by Mrs. Olu Onadipe, praised the graduates for justifying MTNF’s huge investment in their education even as she urged them to become part of the integral sustainable platform for networking. “The onus is on you all to continuously build and strengthen the community of beneficiaries and enlighten others as well,’’ she added.
The event involved a panel discussion by the founder/Chief Executive Officer of okadabooks.com, Mr. Okechukwu Ofili and the founder/Chief Executive Officer, Terra Kulture and Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, Bolanle Austen-Peters on the theme: “Creating a Winning Idea.’’ Both speakers urged the graduates to dream big, purse an idea and think out-of-the-box in trying to do something positive.