The Abia Media Forum, the organisation of senior journalists in Abia State, has faulted the exclusion of the South-East from the interviews of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund Overseas Scholarship Scheme.
In a statement signed by its chairman, Ben Okezie, and secretary, Kelechi Ogbamgba, the forum called on Nigerians “of good conscience” to join in its request that the PTDF should stop what it calls “its (PTDF’s) injustice and insult to the people of the South-East.”
This was in reaction to the PTDF’s “claim that it could not hold interviews for its scholarships in the South-East” despite holding successful interviews in the North-East and North-West.
The statement partly read, “The Abia Media Forum calls on Nigerians of good conscience to join us in our request that the Petroleum Technology Development Fund stop its injustice and insult to the people of the South-East excluded from the lucrative PTDF scholarships and come to the region to do its interviews as it did for other regions.
“The Petroleum Technology Development Fund shocked rational and fair-minded Nigerians last week with its claim that it could not hold interviews for its scholarships in the South-East but did so successfully in the North-East and North-West.
“(The) PTDF instead offers persons from the South-East the opportunity to attend those interviews outside their geopolitical zone.
“The Abia Media Forum is convinced that the PTDF can and should rise to the constitutional and professional obligation to treat all sections of the country fairly and equitably.”
In the statement, which was released on Monday and titled, ‘PTDF should reverse its unjustifiable exclusion of the South-East from scholarships’, the AMF asked the PTDF to apply the Section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution “which directs all agencies of government to enforce the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.”
It stated, “The Abia Media Forum invites PTDF management to apply Section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution which directs all agencies of government to enforce the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. In this case, (the) PTDF must ensure via sub-section 10 that ‘There should not be any discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex (gender), religion, status, ethnic or linguistic ties.’
“(The) PTDF is duty-bound to conduct the Overseas Scholarship Scheme interviews in a location in the South-East as it has done for other regions.”
The PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme is an annual programme that awards scholarships to Nigerians for MSc and PhD studies in partner universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, and Malaysia.
According to the statement, the PTDF received 26,000 applications and shortlisted over 8000.
Quoting the Manager of the scheme, the statement noted that the “PTDF would hold interviews for its Overseas Scholarship Scheme in Abuja (North Central), Port Harcourt (South-South), Ibadan (South-West), Kaduna (North-West) and Bauchi (North-East).”
The AMF berated the PTDF for excluding the South-East on the grounds of insecurity and for claiming that the North-West and North-East were more secure than the South-East.
“The Abia Media Forum considers the PTDF claim that the North-West and the North-East are more secure than the South-East both tendentious and ridiculous as it flies in the face of Nigeria’s current history. Pray, was it not in Kaduna that terrorists bombed a train and took over several communities? Is Kaduna not the location that citizens can hardly reach again through the connecting road to other towns such as Abuja?” the statement queried.
The statement finally added, “Go to the South-East, PTDF. Thank you.”