Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Hundreds of students from secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Rivers and Bayelsa States thronged the ICT Centre in the Rivers State University to compete for slots in the Eroton Exploration and Production Limited scholarship scheme.
Eroton E & P is the operator of joint venture with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the operation of oil mining license 18 which until 2014 belonged to Shell in the Cawthorne Channels and areas around Asari-Toru local council area of Rivers State.
The students were among those who scaled the first hurdle of screening by teachers of the various schools in the host communities on the directives of Eroton.
The scholarship selection exercise, which is the third in the series, caters for brilliant scholars from the communities. Eroton insiders told journalists at the venue of the exams that the scheme, alongside other donations, was part of the JV’s ‘Give Back’ campaign. Speaking to journalists on the scheme, a teacher from Comprehensive College in Abalama, Asari-Toru local council area, Bobmanuel David, said he came to present his students for the exams, adding that his school was lucky to be participating in another round. He said the process was good and that the community is happy to be a host to Eroton and advised the oil company to sustain the scheme.
Also, Otelemabo Oribani, an English teacher from Kalabari National College, called for transparency in the selection process so that students that passed through stress do not end up being shuffled out for shadow candidates that may not have participated. “This is Nigeria, you know.”
One of the candidates in the junior secondary section, 11-year-old Florence Israel from Saint Gabriel State School in Krakrama, said the exam was a bit tough, but she is ready to face challenges in the scheme if selected. She advised other students to study harder and listen attentively to their handlers.
Others from Community Secondary Schools said the exam was good and that it was better than they expected. They each promised to work harder next time.
Sandra Gillis-Harry, a 200-level student of English Language and Communication Studies at Federal University in Otueke, Bayelsa State, said the exam was hard because it questioned critical reasoning, numeric and current affairs, all tested on computer.
She said she comes from a home of six with four already in the university. Her hope of smooth schooling would come from Eroton and the scholarship scheme. She called on other students to start taking the study of current affairs seriously. She also appealed to governments to consider packages to university students because life is difficult on campus especially with tuition and accommodation.
Similarly, a first year medical student of the University of Port Harcourt, Emughedi Goodnews Young from Abual-Odual local council area, said the scholarship is truly for the most brilliant, adding that he was determined to win a slot to help his parents. He said the test is not all about knowledge, but on skills. He said the process seemed transparent so far.
Dorka Brown of the Rivers State University said the scheme would be a huge relief to persons who cannot afford the financial needs of tertiary education.
“I have been through a lot. I ought to have finished my tertiary education, but I am still a 200 level Law undergraduate. The major constraint has been funds. I hope I can pass this exam so that the company can alleviate some of my burdens,” he said.