Lagos spends N1.8b on bursary, scholarships

Obafela Bank-Olemoh

The Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, told GBENGA SALAU, that the state government remains committed to the payment of bursaries and award of scholarship to indigenes of the state.

Can you give insight into the award of scholarship and payment of bursaries by Lagos State Government?
The Lagos State government, through the Lagos State Scholarship Board, has been consistent in the payment of bursaries and scholarship awards to indigenes of the state, even before the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Since the commencement of this administration, Governor Ambode has not only sustained it, but has also scaled it up.Through the scholarship and bursary schemes, Ambode’s administration has paid over N1.8b to 25, 320 beneficiaries on bursary awards, local/foreign scholarships, special needs and sport scholarships.

Bursaries are awarded to indigent students who are indigenes of Lagos State to assist them obtain an  education, which would otherwise have been costly for them given their financial status.Scholarships on the other hand are awarded to   brilliant students and indigenes, who have performed exceptionally in their first year at higher institutions across the country. However, non-indigenes may benefit from the local scholarship award at the prerogative of the governor.

Can you provide the numbers of beneficiaries and the criteria for selection? 
The number of beneficiaries vary according to the different awards and the recommendations of the panel of eminent Lagosians that screen applicants. However, criteria for the award of bursary are that beneficiaries must be students of any higher institution in the country, and must be an indigene of the state. For scholarship awards, would be beneficiaries must not be in their first year and must have at least a 3.5 CGPA (second class upper division), in addition to being an indigene of the state schooling anywhere in the country.

Foreign scholarship is based on the need of the state government in disciplines that are not readily available in Nigerian institutions. It is at the discretion of the governor. For now, the foreign scholarship scheme is on hold, owing to prohibitive foreign exchange rates.For the 2016/17 academic session, 7, 290 students benefited from bursary, 1, 118 students benefited from local scholarship, while 11 students benefited from foreign scholarship.
There are claims by Lagos State student body that payment of bursary is usually late. Why so?
As you may know, Lagos State is one of the very few states in the country that has been consistent with payment of scholarship funds to beneficiaries even in the face of harsh economic realities. We do acknowledge that there have been occasional delays in disbursements, usually as a result of unforeseen or unavoidable internal factors – and certainly with no ill intentions.

Governor Ambode is committed to the state’s scholarship programme and will continue to exert best efforts to ensure that bursary payments are made to the beneficiaries within the shortest time possible.

There are also claims that the number of beneficiaries is small compared to the number of students that applied.
I think it’s a matter of perception really. You know many non-indigenes apply for some of these awards that are primarily for indigenes. For example, many students who are not Lagos State indigenes apply for the bursary. It is only natural that through the screening process, such applicants are dropped because there is an independent screening committee that makes sure that only genuine indigenes benefit from the awards.

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