A group under the aegis of Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), has raised an alarm over the exclusion of applicants from the South-East region from the 2022 Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS) of the Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF).
The group accused PTDF of insincerity and a deliberate attempt to deny qualified Igbo graduates from participating in the scheme meant for all regions in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Obinna Nwagbara made this allegation in a statement made available to journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.
Nwagbara was reacting to a media report credited to one Mr. Mustapha Bello that no centre had been selected for the South-East on account of insecurity in the region.
It was gathered that 8, 800 applicants have been shortlisted and scheduled for interviews in five centres across the country.
Obinna faulted the reason given by the agency as flimsy and unjustifiable, adding that the group would do everything within the law to resist the plot.
The statement said, “We view as unpatriotic, provocative and repulsive, the clear design by the Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF) to exclude applicants from the South-East region in its 2022 Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS).
“A report in Vanguard newspaper of Thursday, May 26, 2022, had credited Mr. Mustapha Bello with announcing that the 8,800 applicants who qualified for the interview phase of the exercise would be interviewed across five different centres.
“According to the report, applicants would be interviewed in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kaduna and Bauchi. The PTDF through Mr Bello announced that no centre had been selected for the South-East on account of insecurity in the region
“On the surface, the excuse seems plausible but when probed deeper, one would understand that a lot more is at play here and all patriotic Nigerians must be concerned about this terrible development. Yes, there is insecurity in the South-East region and we find that very unfortunate considering how peaceful the region has been until recently.
“We consider the reports of the loss of human lives and palpable tension in the region very disturbing; no one should have to live under fear or operate on laws made by non-state actors. Those are facts and as a body, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative, YSAD, has serially condemned acts of brigandage and killing in the region. We had also made several calls to authorities at federal and state levels to go beyond rhetoric and act to restore the much-needed sense of order in the region.”
The group maintained that if insecurity was the reason as cited by PTDF to exclude the South-East region by denying applicants from the zone a centre where they can present themselves for an interview, then the whole exercise should have been cancelled nationwide.
He noted that there is a pandemic of insecurity all over Nigeria.
The statement, therefore, called on well-meaning Nigerians to rise up and resist an alleged attempt to eliminate qualified Igbos from a scheme targeted at graduates from all over Nigeria.
“It is strange that the PTDF cannot find a suitable region in all of the South-East for its interview but would go ahead and interview candidates in Kaduna State where according to reports in the Cable newspaper of April 20, 2022, 259 Nigerians lost their lives in the first quarter of 2022 following 31 attacks by various criminal groups,” the statement added.