The British Government has awarded a total of 40 Nigerians the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to study a wide range of master’s programmes in the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2018, TOPNAIJA.NG can confirm.
The recipients were selected from a pool of over 6,000 applications in Nigeria and more than 63,000 applications across the globe.
Speaking at a pre-departure reception held in Abuja yesterday, the British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright, said the applicants who won the scholarships did incredibly well to have been among the less than 1 percent awardees.
While announcing the opening of the 2018/2019 application cycle, Arkwright said the British Government had been consistent in its award of the annual scholarship programme for the past 34 years; adding that the aim of the programme is to help young people of Nigerian origin make the difference that would transform the potentials of the country into economic and political gains for all citizens.
He maintained that as a requirement for selection, all applicants must pledge to return to their countries of origin at the end of their Scholarship programme and make the best use of the training, skills, and education that they pursued in the UK by ploughing that back in whatever you are going to do next in Nigeria for a minimum of two years.
Arkwright, while mentioning a few of the Alumni of the programme who have contributed to the development of Nigeria to include; veteran broadcasters John Momoh and Eugenia Abu; and the current Acting-Secretary to Government of the Federation, Habiba Lawal, said one of the great benefits they all admit to have enjoyed through the programme was the many great friendships and networks form across the globe they developed during their year of study in the UK.
He said: “Just over 6,000 people applied and we are awarding about 40 scholarships. So, you do the maths. Those of you who won the scholarships have done incredibly well.
“Some past Chevening scholars that have been speaking with me this evening told me about the benefits they gained through the programme.
“Just a few words for those of you who don’t know about the Chevening scholarship; it’s been running since 1983. It is a huge global network of about 48,000 people around the world.
“The thing I am most impressed with is that when I talk to Nigerian scholars, they say, ‘the thing I enjoyed most about the programme was the sense of camaraderie with Chevening scholars of other nations.’ I think that is a really important aspect of the programme.
“To learn from others not just to learn from what British education could do for you but to learn from the experiences of others across the world. That’s a wonderful thing.
“Nigeria has serious economic and socio-political problems but it is a country with massive potentials. If these potentials will be fully realized, then it is the young people of Nigeria origin who would make that difference.
“And what we are doing with the Chevening scholarships is to try to make that difference that it is really important that if you go on the Chevening scholarship that you have to come back to your country of origin and give back to your people what you learnt.
“So, make the best use of your training, the skill, the education that you will be pursuing in the UK and plough that back in whatever you are going to do next in Nigeria. I think that is incredibly important. So, this is a celebration.”
Speaking on behalf of the Alumni of the Chevening Scholarship present at the occasion, the Acting SGF, Habiba Lawal said: “I congratulate all the awardees here tonight. I was on board 20 years ago. I wish to thank the UK government for this effort and to reiterate the fact that it is very opportunities one could get in life.
“For me, I would say it is one of the things that took me from where I was (the University system) to the where I am today as Acting SGF. It has greatly influenced the way I work. It has also improved my competences, my skills, and abilities.
“I believe this opportunity for those going on board now is to be utilized and made useful for Nigeria. When you come back and contribute to the work that is been done, that is when Nigeria must have gained and I am sure the purpose for which the scholarship is provided is been achieved.”
On his part, one of the awardees, Mohammed Abba-aji, a medical doctor with the Nigerian Air Force, said that the programme would transform his life and empower his capability to affect the society better.