|Chairman, House of Representatives committee on education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman|
The House committee chairman on education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman, who chaired a public hearing on the matter, expressed regrets that its previous decision was jettisoned by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) with the support of the ex-minister of education, Nyesom Wike.
"Last year we asked for the exercise to be stopped and reversed because some parts of the country felt cheated. Unfortunately, the Executive Secretary of the NUC through the directive of the former minister of education and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), snubbed us.
"But the committee allowed it to pass believing that a lesson would have been learnt. But here we are again. The same process is being adopted.”
In response, the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, insisted that qualification for the scholarship is based on merit and not federal character. He explained that only first class graduates are involved.
Stressing that out of the multiple entries, only 100 applicants are selected as beneficiaries, Okojie advised that the scheme should not be scrapped.
He said he would not be a party to deliberately design a system that would exclude some parts of the country. "Unless we are saying that the criteria have to change, I will not advise that the programme should be scrapped," he emphasized, pointing out that whatever transpired at the meeting he would relay to the President.
But again, Suleiman reminded him that "the issues you raised this afternoon are similar to the ones you gave us last year."
He noted that Wike truncated the decision of the House. "You continue to argue that there are some states of the federation that cannot make first class degrees."
He faulted the NUC scribe for failing to provide the advertisement the commission made for the awards of scholarships, the list of applicants and the members of the board that selected the beneficiaries and how many times the board sat.
Saying that the committee wanted these details to ascertain why two-thirds of the country was excluded from the programme, the committee chairman observed : "You didn't get back to us.
"The only thing we saw was the ceremony on television where the former minister tried to set parents against the National Assembly.
"It is our belief in this committee that there is no state in the country where you cannot find a first class graduate. Those questions we asked last year are still valid."
Suleiman then ruled: "Until that is done, we will stop the process."