The Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, has offered automatic employment to 307 products of the Bayelsa State Scholarship Scheme, who have concluded their doctorate and master decree programmes in various disciplines in universities across the world.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, yesterday quoted the governor as offering the automatic employment to 107 PhD holders and 200 M.Sc. degree holders during a meeting with beneficiaries of the scheme in Yenagoa at the weekend.
The governor also announced automatic employment for all medical doctors, pharmacists and public health specialists and other beneficiaries of the state scholarship scheme who studied professional courses considered critical to the ongoing efforts to develop the state.
The governor told the ecstatic audience that the 107 PhD holders would be deployed in the three state-owned universities – the Niger Delta University, University of Africa and the Bayelsa Medical University as lecturers.
He also stated that other products of the scheme who studied medicine and other professional courses at Master Degree level would be engaged by the government in the various medical facilities and the civil service respectively.
The beneficiaries of the scheme returned with PhDs and M.Sc in disciplines such as Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Agric Engineering, International Relations, Pharmacy, Public Health, Computing and Electronics System, Gas Turbine Engineering, Natural Resources Management, Environmental Law and Management, Statistics and others.
However, Dickson noted that the scholarship scheme, which was designed to send an army of Bayelsa scholars to universities across the globe came with heavy sacrifice and cost to the government.
According to him, the government was saddled with outstanding liabilities of about three million pounds, one million euros, several millions of dollars and naira.
He stressed that while the cost of sending the scholars outside the country was quite huge, investment in education and human capacity development was the only way to wrest the state from clutches of underdevelopment, oppression and poverty.
He stated further that the plan of the government under his leadership to send large number of Bayelsa scholars to universities across the globe was stalled by the 2016 economic recession, which affected several programmes of the government.
He said: “We should not forget to invest in education. The reason we are where we are is because of lack of education, the reason people take away our resources with impunity is lack of education.
“The mindless degradation of our own environment, the acts of impunity against our people and their environment, what I call environmental terrorism, is because of the backwardness in education.
“Those who woke up early and embraced education have taken over everywhere. This is our own way of equipping our people to be able to tackle the existential challenges facing us today.
“The cost is quite huge but no matter the cost, this is the right way to go. I don’t need to know any one of you to be given the opportunity and encouraged to study abroad.
“While it is good to build roads, hospitals, edifices, for the state, investments in human capacity is the most important. All the others can collapse but the investment in human capacity development will endure.”
He assured beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme still in various universities within and outside the country that the state government would ensure the release of funds next week to gradually offset outstanding bills.
He directed the scholarship board to commence the process to immediately settle the outstanding bills of scholars who have concluded their studies and needed their certificates for promotion or upgrading as well those who want to further their studies.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries who studied for PhD, Dr. Jude Cocodia, a lecturer at the Niger Delta University, commended Dickson for his bold revolution in the education sector of the state.
He said the state was already feeling the positive impacts of years of sustained investments in education especially at the NDU which is host to a large number of the beneficiaries.
The governor had earlier offered automatic employment to 31 First Class graduates and 1000 young graduates into the state civil service who received their letters of employment in January, 2019.
Dickson said his administration established the Tertiary Education.
Loan Scheme to enable every Bayelsa child with a desire to attain university education to obtain a loan collateralised by their certificates and then pay back when they are gainfully employed.
He stressed that the administration succeeded in building schools, set up various scholarship programmes for all levels cut across the state in spite of the recession.