Agbami Partners: Boosting Human Capital in Engineering, Medicine

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For the past nine years, the Agbami co-venturers have been developing manpower for technology and health care delivery in Nigeria through the Agbami Medical and Engineering Professional Scholarship Programme. The partners recently rolled out the drums to celebrate 32 beneficiaries of the scheme who graduated with first class from the University of Lagos, including Miss Oyindamola Omotuyi, who made a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 5.0. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

But for the Agbami Medical and Engineering Professional Scholarship Programme (AMEPS), Mr. Victor Chineke’s chances of completing his university education would have been uncertain.

Chineke, who was among the recipients of the scholarship that made first class from the University of Lagos, graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.72. According to him, he secured the scholarship in his second year and described it as a timely intervention, because it came when his father was experiencing financial issues and could not have been able to support his education.

As a student of Chemical Engineering, he said his design project and research project required a lot of funds which the scholarship took care of. He said being a recipient of the scholarship also gave him the opportunity to do his internship with Chevron and it was a wonderful experience.

“It opened up my ideas in the field of engineering that is why I want to focus more on process safety management and environmental engineering, which was the unit I worked with when I was in Chevron.”

He said the journey was not smooth, as he fell ill for a month when he was in second year and missed classes and some tests. “It affected my grades, but in third year I was able to catch up with the help of some friends and my parents. It is important to have good friends around you to support you. So with their support I was able to pull through.”

Asked how he sustained the scholarship despite the health challenge he experienced, Chineke said, “when you have this kind of company willing to support you and looking towards a great future for you then you will have the zeal to keep improving. There were downtimes, but when you have the mindset to succeed, you will.”

He advised his fellow graduands to look inwards and determine what they want to do in life; things that give them joy and things they have passion for. “For me I have passion for chemical engineering and process safety management.”

For the younger students, he said they should be focused and try as much as possible to understand their lecturers because different lecturers have different ways they want their questions answered. “They should endeavor to do their assignments and other tasks by themselves they should practice on their own and the sky will be their limit.”

Perhaps there were and are other youths like Chineke across the country, whose dream of becoming graduates would have been truncated without the scholarship.

For the partners, the investment was worth it, as a total of 320 beneficiaries made first class from universities across the country in the 2015/16 academic session, leading the pack was Miss Oyindamola Omotuyi, who made a CGPA of 5.0 from the Department of Systems Engineering, UNILAG.

The Ondo State born, who started enjoying the scholarship from her first year at the university, said achieving the feat was through wisdom from God “not that I did more than my classmates, it has been grace all through, and I have good classmates, we read together. I am a knowledge-based person more than a grade person, I am particular about the knowledge I get in a course because of the interest I have in the course.”

Omotuyi, whose spare time on campus was spent serving in her department as a lab proctor and in various capacities in the students’ Christian fellowship, said she never attended parties and other social events, except the ones organized by her fellowship.

She said she would love to go for master’s degree so as to specialise in a particular field because her course is broad in the undergraduate level. “I want to specialise in artificial intelligence and programing.”

She advised students who want to get scholarship to always be on the lookout because scholarships are everywhere “and it is not hard to get one just write an IQ examination. Most people don’t get the information so you have to be on the social network.”

For her fellow graduands, she said they should look at the areas they have not been developed and develop themselves; also they should focus on what they are really interested in doing because they are now free to make their own choices.

The scholarship scheme commenced in 2009 and is administered by Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a Chevron company) on behalf of its partners in the Agbami Field: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Famfa Oil Limited, Statoil Nigeria Limited and Petroleo Brasileiro Nigeria Limited.

Since inception about 15,356 scholarships have been awarded and over N7 billion has been invested in the scheme. In the 2015/16 academic session, 320 beneficiaries made first class; 497 made second class upper division; while 1,729 made second class lower division from universities across the country.

Apart from the scholarship, the co-venturers have constructed, furnished and donated 26 fully equipped science laboratory complexes to schools; five hybrid libraries and two conventional libraries to schools.

Speaking on behalf of the Agbami partners, the Manager, Policy Government and Public Affairs Lagos for Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Sam Otuonye, said “we are very excited and we think it is an investment worth it because our desire is to contribute significantly to the development of education particularly technical education in Nigeria.”

Describing the selection process as rigorous, he said the scholarship is highly competitive and to be a beneficiary, the student must be a Nigerian and must have secured admission in one of the universities in the country.

“You need to have the requisite credentials in terms of academic qualification, if you are able to gain admission it means you have the O’Level qualification, you have to pass the examination and remember it is competitive so the higher you score the better for you. We have a cut-off mark based on performance and based on the number we are able to accommodate in any year.”

For accuracy and objectivity, he said the selection process is handled by a third party known as Dragnet Solutions for professionalism. “After Dragnet has selected, we come back in-house to look at it and make sure that every state of the country is well represented and well reflected.”

Because the scholarship is a highly competitive one, Otuonye said any student that does not make a CGPA of 3.5 and above will cease being a beneficiary. “So there is this effort by the students to make sure they remain at the top. We try to make sure that we put some subtle encouragement because when they know that they will lose the scholarship if they don’t do well, they will put in greater effort.”

Asked how information about the scholarship is disseminated, he said: “We do massive advertisement to create awareness; we also go online using modern media techniques and we also send posters to the universities.”

On the possibility of the beneficiaries being employed by any of the partner company, he said: “As a matter of fact our focus is to help develop appropriate manpower for Nigeria in all the sectors we are sponsoring education: the medical sciences and the engineering sciences and one way or the other we will benefit from it because we are an engineering company and if there are vacancies they apply and qualify we take them, right now we have a number of them working in our company, one of them is already a general manager.”