Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on Thursday awarded N60 million in scholarship awards to 400 indigent undergraduates from Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers States.
The undergraduates, who are studying in different universities across the Niger Delta region, received a cheque of N150,000 each as scholarship for the 2015/2016 academic session.
Mr Igo Weli, SPDC General Manager, External Relations, said at the award giving ceremony in Port Harcourt that the SPDC-JV-sponsored scholarship scheme was for indigent undergraduates of its host communities.
He said out of thousands of undergraduates who sat the SPDC-JV University Scholarship examination, only 400 passed after undergoing a transparent screening process.
“The scholarship programme provides an opportunity for the less privileged to pursue their dream of acquiring higher education.
“Selection for the scholarship programme was based solely on performance while it covers all fields of study in both arts and sciences.
“The scholarship is for undergraduates in our host communities with 2.5 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA).
“SPDC-JV will stop granting scholarship to beneficiaries whose CGPA falls below 2.5.
“However, we will resume payment if the beneficiary remedies and improves the CGPA,” he said.
Weli said the scheme, which began in 1953, had seen thousands of Nigerians across the region benefit from the scholarship.
He added that aside scholarship for undergraduates, SPDC-JV currently pays tuition of over 1,000 indigent secondary school students of its host communities annually.
According to him, other scholarship schemes include Cradle-to-Career scholarship for 60 gifted young people and one-year Master’s overseas postgraduate scholarship for 10 graduates.
“Also, we recently launched the maiden edition of the Scholars Meet Shell Programme where scholarship beneficiaries with First Class CGPA are brought into close interaction with our staff.
“This is part of our commitment to contributing to Nigeria’s human capital despite the low oil price and economic challenges that have impacted to the funding of oil and gas operations,” he said.
Weli said that the company had built science blocks, donated science equipment and established centres of excellence in some universities to enable the nation to achieve its Millennium Development Goals on education.
John Kingsley, one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship awards and a 200-level undergraduate student of Abia State University, Uturu, commended SPDC for the scholarship.
Kingsley said he was on the verge of dropping out from the university due to his parents’ inability to meet his tuition fees and living cost before he sat and passed the examination.
“I am very grateful because SPDC has wiped away the tears from my eyes and that of my parents.
“ I thank SPDC-JV for giving me the opportunity to pursue my academic dream,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Miss Nengi Christian, commended SPDC-JV for upgrading the scholarship grant from N75,000 to N150,000 per annum in spite of the current dwindling oil prices.