Lagos — Thirteen indigenes of Niger Delta States of Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers have won the 2019 Shell Petroleum Development Company Joint Venture scholarship for a one-year master’s degree in three top-ranked universities in the United Kingdom.
The latest awards bring the total number of beneficiaries to 92 since the inception of the scheme in 2010.
“A lack of world-class research institutions and limited access to technology are key challenges in enabling Nigerians and Nigerian companies to play an even greater role in the oil and gas value chain, therefore, the SPDC Joint Venture has, over the years, developed many scholarship programmes and other initiatives as part of our continuing efforts to develop indigenous manpower for the oil and gas industry,” SPDC’s General Manager External Relations, Igo Weli, said at the award ceremony in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Represented by SPDC’s Social Investment Manager, Gloria Udoh, Weli explained that the scheme was targeted at host communities. “We have the national scholarship which caters for the entire country in addition to the scholarships offered by our deepwater business, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company.”
According to him, the fully-funded scholarship covers “all the direct and indirect activities leading up to the award of the postgraduate degree including visa fees, Tuition, living expenses, other allowances and return flight tickets for a one-year Master’s degree in top-ranked partner universities.
The partner universities are: Imperial College London; University of Leeds; and University of Aberdeen.
SPDC’s General Manager, Nigerian Content Development, Olanrewaju Olawuyi said the company was committed to country value addition not just through scholarships but also through in-country manufacturing, supplier development, asset ownership and infrastructure development.
Olawuyi said, “Our approach to developing local human capacity has evolved over the years as the challenges facing the industry and our businesses have changed. We look forward to their returning home and contributing to the development of the oil and gas industry and their communities.”
One of the awardees, Ahante Promise, described the scholarship as “a life-time opportunity to further improve myself and compete equally with my peers all over the world. Shell is doing a great job and I am extremely grateful.” Another beneficiary, Woyinpreye Cliff-Ekubo, expressed appreciation to SPDC “for the opportunity and continuous support in ensuring human capacity development in Nigeria.”
Shell Companies in Nigeria have a long history of supporting education through scholarships and other initiatives. Since inception in the 1950s, the Shell scholarship scheme has supported several thousands of “Shell Scholars” many of whom are among today’s captains of industry, thought leaders, traditional rulers, and officials of various arms of government.
In 2018, approximately $5.9 million (N1.78 billion24) was invested in scholarships by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited operated Joint Venture (SPDC JV) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo).
Grants were awarded to 532 secondary school students and 430 university undergraduates in 2018.
Shell Companies in Nigeria have awarded 8,758 secondary and 5,165 university educational grants between 2011 and 2018. This includes 287 secondary school scholarships to people with special needs and physical challenges.
Support for education is just one aspect of SPDC’s social investments in the Niger Delta, other Community-driven development programmes and initiatives, which focus on various themes as determined by benefiting communities include community health, enterprise development, and infrastructure development.