Reasons For 92 Scholarships In ICT, Law- DG NITDA
By Olabisi Olaleye
Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),Issa Pantami has given reasons the agency recently doled out 92 postgraduate scholarships for the 2017/2018 year.
According to him, it was principally to address information and Communication Technology, ICT skills requirements to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s sustainable economic growth and development strides through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),this year. The scheme was expanded to cover diverse areas including LLM ICT Law. It is also to enhance access as well as provide opportunities to both public and private Universities in the country.
He noted that the scholarship scheme was established in 2010 to bridge the digital divide through human capital development with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based economy. “Two scholars are selected per state, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at Masters Level and one scholar per Geo-Political Zone of the country at Doctorate Level. The scholarship scheme is highly competitive and candidates are selected based on academic excellence and leadership qualities. Applicants go through rigorous and transparent selection process; holders of Bachelor’s degree with First Class or Second Class (Upper) Honours in any IT related field are eligible to apply for the MSc scholarships.
“While only lecturers in any of the Higher Institutions of Learning in the country with MSc in any IT related field are eligible to apply. After application, shortlisted candidates sit for a computer-based aptitude test and two candidates with the highest scores from each of the 36 states and the FCT final interview for the MSc while only one candidate per geopolitical zone is invited for the PhD scholarship”.
Pantami, who spoke through Nitda’s Director Human Resource and Administration Department,Dr Mohammed Yelwa, said this academic year, a total of 5,504 candidates applied out of which 2,188 sat for the computer-based aptitude test.
“The final interview is designed to assess candidates’ academic merit and exceptional character traits that would enable them maintain highest level ethical values, discipline, dedication to studies and be worthy ambassadors of the country”. Adding that Pantami created the selection process introduced to enhance the scheme’s credibility.
Dr Yelwa further revealed that each scholar studying abroad receives an average package of 17.5 million naira per annum comprising tuition fees, personal allowance to cover accommodation, living expenses and other allowances while in-country scholars receive an average of 3.5 million naira and about 752.5 million naira is spent annually on the scheme.
Recall that from the scheme’s inception to date, the Agency has successfully sponsored 341 Nigerian Graduates in various ICT fields at Masters Level and 42 for Doctorate Level at Universities in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Australia. A number of beneficiaries of the Scheme are now in full employment while others have set up viable IT business ventures that are providing employment opportunities as well as developing globally competitive products and services, thereby making valuable contribution to the Nigerian economy.