The House of Representatives Committee on Education on Thursday asked the Federal Government to stop the 2015/2016 Presidential Special Scholarship for Innovation and Development on the grounds that the scheme was designed to favour some sections of the country to the exclusion of others.
The committee, which is chaired by a lawmaker from Kano State, Mr. Aminu Sulaiman, met with the Chairman of the Implementation Committee, Prof. Julius Okojie, in Abuja on Thursday.
Lawmakers engaged Okojie, who doubles as the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, in a heated debate over the matter.
Thursday’s directive of the committee was the second since last year when it started investigating the criteria for the award of the scholarships.
For example, Suleiman claimed that northerners were sidelined in the awards, leading to what he called “education imbalance and monumental abuse.”
But, Okojie replied that no considerations other than “merit,” qualified the beneficiaries for the awards.
Okojie added, “Unless we are saying that the criteria have to change, I will not advise that the programme should be scrapped.”
However, he assured the lawmakers that he would pass their position to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The committee observed that out of the 104 applicants short-listed for the scholarship this year, none came from the North-West and the North-East.
Members also said the North-Central received only seven slots, while the Federal Capital Territory also did not get any.
But, Okojie explained that the award was meant for first class graduates, who were under 30 years of age, for further studies in any of the top 100 universities in the world.