By Sixtus Uket (Calabar)
Mixed reactions have trailed the commencement of distribution of scholarship forms to indigent students of Cross River State origin by the State government with many describing it as another fake promise by Governor Ben Ayade to win the support of youths for his attempt to return to the Senate, while some gave him kudos for resuscitating the state’s scholarship scheme that had been grounded in the past many years.
The State Government, Tuesday, commenced the distribution of scholarship forms to indigent student applicants in the state pursuing various degree programmes in different tertiary institutions in the country.
While many are asking why Ayade just remembered to give out scholarships barely four months to his exit as governor, officials of the Scholarship Board insist that it is not for any political gains, but an initiative aimed at alleviating the sufferings of beneficiaries.
Flagging-off the exercise at the State Scholarship Board Office, Old Secretariat, Calabar, Prof. Ayade, said the idea was his way of encouraging young people to pursue education to become better citizens.
The governor, who was represented by the Director-General (DG) of the State Scholarship Board, Nuella Tessy, explained that the scheme would also enable the students to realise their dreams, “rather than remain at home just because they cannot afford to pay school fees.
“We are giving out forms and by the grace of God, very soon people who apply for the scholarships and scale through the screening process, would begin to receive their alerts,” the DG said.
But speaking to our reporter in Calabar, a veteran journalist, who simply identified himself as ‘Honourable,” wondered why the governor has suddenly decided to award scholarships to students of the state when he has only four months to spend in office.
“Who will pay, four months to go. Something is wrong somewhere with our leaders,” he stressed.
A student leader in the state, David Edet, on his part, said “it is another fake news from the administration of Prof. Ben Ayade.
“Another fake promise as usual. A political strategy, but dead on arrival,” he added.
Also commenting on the issue, a final year student at the University of Cross River, Emmanuel Obeten, stated that he was not excited by the gesture of the state government which, he said, is coming too late in the day.
“The scholarship scheme has not moved me a bit. I have been in school without any government scholarship or bursary award as was the case in the past. I trust God that I will complete my studies without any assistance from anywhere,” Obeten said.
He wondered why the government waited till the last lap of the second tenure of the administration before floating the scholarship scheme if it really meant well for students of the state.
However, an All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart in the state, Barr. Okoi Obono Obla, said “it is heartwarming that Governor Ben Ayade has revamped and resuscitated the scholarship scheme of the government of Cross River State.
“It is axiomatic that scholarship schemes the world over are an instrument for the empowerment of indigent but bright students to acquire education. The Cross River State scholarship scheme has been in a comatose state for such a long time. Its resuscitation is a pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade holds human capacity building and empowerment of young people dear to his heart.
“God bless Senator Professor Ben Ayade for directing the resuscitation of the scholarship scheme and it couldn’t have come at a better time than this season of yuletide,” he said.
Our reporter gathered that to qualify for the scholarship, applicants must show admission letter offered them by their institutions of higher learning.
It was also learnt that students who are qualified to apply for the scholarships include those for undergraduate, postgraduate Diploma (PGD), M.Sc and doctorate degree programmes’.
When asked to explain why the governor didn’t offer scholarships to students throughout his first and second tenures, only to initiate the programme few months to his exit as governor, the DG said it is not a strategy to win election.