Dr. Alex Otti, candidate of Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 governorship election in Abia State, says no fewer than 120 students from Abia, studying in various universities across Nigeria, are currently enjoying a scholarship programme founded and funded by him.
The scholarship scheme, run by the Alex Otti Foundation (AOF), started in 2019. One of the recipients, Chibuike Kelvin Ukoha, recently graduated with a first class in Marine Engineering from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Otti said the scholarship scheme fashioned after the Chevening Scholarship, United Kingdom (UK), is one of his modest interventions to help government in rescuing the fallen standard of education in Abia State, and indeed, Nigeria.
According to Otti, projected to win the Abia governorship in 2023 by credible opinion polls, such as those conducted by ANAP and Channels Television, the educational sector in Abia needs a lot of help, from the primary through the secondary to the tertiary.
Speaking to journalists at the Ngwa High School Old Boys Association (NHSOBA) ‘2022 Home Coming’ celebration, at the school compound in Aba, over the weekend, Otti said one of the first things his administration will do when it takes over government in Abia will be to put process in place to ensure standard is returned to the educational sector.
He said: “You know as well as I do that today, two major institutions in Abia, Abia State University Teaching Hospital and Abia State Polytechnic, have lost accreditation and the major reason being that lecturers and teachers and workers in those institutions are being owed (salaries) for several months.
“So, the first thing that we will do is to ensure that standards are returned to our institutions. Salaries will be paid as and when due, pensioners will be paid.
“As an individual, even before this time, I’ve been committed to supporting education. My Foundation has over 120 students at any point in time that we pay school fees for, once you maintain the minimum threshold.
“The way we modelled the scholarship is after the Chevening Scholarships in the UK. As a matter of fact, I don’t know any of the beneficiaries of the scholarship. The assessments are done independently and beneficiaries emerge and they continue on that scholarship until they graduate.
“We have a few people who are studying medicine; some of them in their fifth year, some of them in their sixth year. They remain on the scholarship as long as they maintain the threshold.”
Otti, a renowned economist and top banker, said proper funding is critical to quality education, so also are curricula, “to put your eyes on the ground to ensure that whatever you have churned out as policy is implemented”.
Quoting the late global statesman and former South African President, Nelson Mandela, Otti said education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world.
“The present and future of Abia depend on the quality and scope of education we provide for our population. We will intentionally prepare our citizens to be skilled participants in the global village, where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are used as productive tools for work and play,” he assured.