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Ikpeazu excites 26 Abia students with foreign scholarship

By From Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
19 February 2022   |   2:48 am
Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, wrapped up the year with a surprising foreign scholarship to 26 students from the state.

Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, wrapped up the year with a surprising foreign scholarship to 26 students from the state.

Governor Ikpeazu with some beneficiaries before their departure.


The governor, who has been championing the cause of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as an effective pathway to economic prosperity, decided to change course by granting post-graduate foreign scholarships to deserving young graduates.
  
What started as a joke got realistic expression last week, when the final eight out of the 26 students that were successful in the advertised offer jetted out of the country to Australia to study courses ranging from Information, Communications Technology (ICT), Civil Engineering, Public Health, Masters in Environmental Science and Management, Masters in Electrical/Electronic Engineering.
  
The successful students headed to such first-rate institutions as, Flinders University, James Cook University, University of New England and Torrens University.
 
In keeping with the state’s moniker as God’s Own State, a prayer session was conducted for the departing students by the governor’s spiritual father before their departure.
  
At their pre-departure session with the governor, Dr. Ikpeazu charged the students to be of good conduct in their various universities while in Australia. He enjoined them to constantly reflect on the fact that they are outside the country as ambassadors of God’s Own State so as to eschew whatever could attract a negative image to Abia State and Nigeria at large.
 
The governor used the opportunity to assure young people in the state of his heart desire to prepare them for the challenges of life, stressing that his resolve is to raise a pool of skilled, courageous and innovative leaders of tomorrow in the state.
  
While noting that sustainable development is impossible without a crop of well-endowed and trained youths, the Abia State chief executive said he is convinced that education is an imperishable gift that endows the possessors with confidence and socio-economic prosperity.
  
“By the time you come back, Abia State would be richer in all ramifications, because the knowledge and skills you acquired will touch on various sectors. It is my belief that when you begin to deploy the knowledge and skills you acquire from abroad, you will help to lift the state and above all, serve as a source of inspiration to other youths,” he remarked.
  
In an interaction with The Guardian, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, John Okiyi Kalu, said the objective of the scholarship should not be seen from the prism of mere gesture for public adulation. He stressed that the scholarship award was borne out of Governor Ikpeazu’s determination to create a strong human capital base for the sustainable development of Abia State.
  
On how the beneficiaries were selected, especially against concerns over the issue of balance between merit and geopolitical equilibrium, the Commissioner explained that there was no way such a noble gesture from the state government could be subsumed on the altar of political consideration.
   
He said those who were qualified applied, thoroughly screened and selected, even as he expressed optimism that the government would continue to intervene in other crucial sectors of youth development.
 
According to the commissioner, Governor Ikpeazu paid for the students’ local international flight tickets, including from Owerri-Lagos, Lagos-Sydney, adding that each student received USD300 as BTA (Basic Travel Allowance) from the governor.
    
Kalu said the prayer session was held on the governor’s belief that unless God watches over the city, the watchmen wait in vain, adding that the students need God’s divine support to achieve the purposes for which they were being sent out.
  
He stated: “What our governor has done could be likened to a wise farmer, who was planting his crops with faith. His Excellency, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu is not making noise about it, but he is busy planting the seeds of true greatness in the lives of Abia State youths.
  
“Recall that early in 2020, Governor Ikpeazu travelled to Australia to sign agreements with some universities in Australia to enable students of Abia origin seamless study on a scholarship, as well as obtain a work permit to support themselves. 
   
“Also, the governor had earlier this year sent other students to India to study ICT (Information Communications Technology), Law, Engineering among other courses.”
  
Kalu declared that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu remains the undisputed champion of youth empowerment and capacity building in the Southeast. He insisted that Ikpeazu is about the only governor that is sending Igbo youths abroad on foreign scholarships. 
  
“Earlier in his administration, the Governor sent 30 youths to China to learn skills in automated shoemaking and subsequently established Enyimba Automated Shoe Company (ENASCO) to enable them to practice what they learned.
 
  
“Just this month, eight out of 15 Abia youths, who were given visas left for Australia for post-graduate studies in various science and engineering courses as well as public health and ICT,” he added.
 
The commissioner noted that a system of periodic evaluation has been put in place to ensure that the state government was getting value for its investment in the development of youths. He noted that products of ENASCO are expected to train apprentices to expand the scope of empowerment and skill acquisition.

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