From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Despite the economic recession plaguing Nigeria and ceaseless blowing up of oil pipe lines by the militants in the Niger Delta Region, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPC0) has kept faith with their social responsibility programmes as evident in its recent decision to give scholarship awards to 110 indigent students from community schools nation-wide to study at elite secondary schools across the nation under, its National Cradle To Career (NC2C) Scheme for 2016.
Fifteen of the number came from the South East geo-political zone and all of them gained admission into Grundtvig International Secondary School (GISS), Oba, Anambra State being the selected elite secondary school from the South East by the oil companies.
During a closing ceremony of the fifteen awardees’ orientation programme organised by the GISS, Oba, the Principal of the school, Mr Abiodun O.A. explained that the NNPC/SNEPCo NC2C scholarship scheme was an all-inclusive programme that enabled Nigerian pupils from indigent homes to gain access to six-year secondary education in reputable secondary schools across Nigeria. He said that GISS had been selected as the representative of the NNPC/SNEPCo for the programme in the South East.
Welcoming them to the conclusion of the year’s orientation ceremony, he urged the scholarship beneficiaries to continue to work harder. “The scholarship offer is dependent on your ability to sustain your current academic achievement as well as your exemplary character,” he said. “The offer can be withdrawn by your sponsor whenever any of these conditions is no longer maintained.”
He thanked the benefactors, NNPC and SNEPCo, even as he congratulated parents of the beneficiaries and urged them to join hands with the school and the sponsors in ensuring that all the children make the best use of “the great opportunity given to them.”
Earlier, the General Manager, External Relations, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Igo Weli, represented by Engineer Victor Diagbonya, explained that the SNEPCo launched the National Cradle-to-Career programme in 2014 to help in bridging educational inequalities resulting from geographic and socio-economic differences. He said that the endeavour contributed towards the actualization of the UNESCO “Education for All” goal.
“I am particularly happy that, in spite of the low oil price in the global market and the economic challenges in the country, SNEPCo and its concessionaire, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and co-venturers, Esso Exploration and Production Company (Deepwater Ltd), Total E & P Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian Agip Exploration Ltd-ENI, have kept faith with our commitment to support Nigerian youths to attend some of the best secondary schools in the country,” he said. “We do this because, to us in SNEPCo, education is key to national development. It is the answer to today’s challenges and an anchor for a better and brighter future.”
Revealing how the 110 successful candidates were selected, he said they started with an aptitude test which he said was thrown open to pupils in public secondary schools in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The pupils, according to him, underwent a two-week orientation programme with introductory courses in academics, character and psychology to prepare them for seamless integration into their new learning environment.
Weli told parents and guardians who gathered at the main auditorium of GISS that the SNEPCo would be responsible for the tuition, boarding and related commitments for the six-year duration of the awardees’ schooling. Three students were selected from each of the five states in South East.
The awardees who spoke in turns expressed gratitude to the oil companies and the school for offering them admission and pledged their loyalty and obedience to the rules and regulations of the school.
One of the parents’, Dr Uro-chukwu Henry whose daughter, Miss Chidinma, JSSI was among the beneficiaries, testified that the process for selecting the students was very transparent. “I was thinking that I had to have some connections before my daughter could make it but there was nothing like that,” he said.
He thanked the oil companies and the staff and management of the GISS for the great opportunity given to his daughter. Other parents and guardians were also full of joy.
The event featured cultural dance by the students. Some of the dignitaries on the occasion included Hon Timothy Ifedioramma, representing Njikoka in Anambra State House of Assembly. He said the gesture of the SNEPCo would go a long way in alleviating the sufferings of indigent students in the society and would give them sense of belonging. He thanked the sponsors immensely but requested that in future, South East should be considered for more slots in the scholarship. scheme.