In one of John Kennedy’s quotes on gratitude, the former President of America noted that “we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” This is even more true of people who water the garden of our aspirations, career pursuits and goal actualization.
Since the take-off of the Senator Bassey Albert Scholarship Scheme, beneficiaries of the scholarship have continued to hail the progenitor – Obong Bassey Albert – for his ingenuity and selflessness in prioritizing on the needs of his constituents by giving them a more enduring, lucrative and invaluable legacy – education.
Insights from western archives have it that the free education policy introduced by the great Obafemi Awolowo, was the Airplane which flew the likes of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other front liners at the national table, to their green lands. This is perhaps the reason Sen. OBA has keyed into educating his constituents free of charge, to enable them shine bright like Diamonds in the future, by putting in place an educational empowerment scheme, aimed at promoting excellence and providing financial assistance to them.
On Wednesday, July 29, one of the scholars from the first set of the scholarship scheme was visibly overjoyed as he took his induction oath into the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). Pharm David Luke, a native of Issiet Ekim in Uruan Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State, who narrated his financial frustration prior to the scholarship grant he got, praised the Senator for being there for him when he almost threw in the towel.
“It was all by God. Thanks so much Distinguished Senator Obong Bassey Albert (OBA). Today is feasible by your scholarship. You will keep winning”.
Duke who graduated from the University of Uyo, was one of the 140 beneficiaries of the first batch of Senator Albert’s scholarship scheme in 2016.
It would be recalled that the maiden edition of the Senator Bassey Albert Akpan Educational Empowerment Program for Undergraduates was part of his electoral campaign promises to the people. The campaign promise which has today become a continuum spanning across semesters and sessions, has proven the Senator to be one with the interest of the masses at heart, in bearing the cost of the tuition fees of 140 scholars initially, and later, 241 (in the second batch) for the entire duration of their study.
Also notable is the fact that these scholars from Etinan, Ibesikpo Asutan, Ibiono Ibom, Itu, Nsit Atai, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Ubium, Uruan and Uyo in the first batch and the entire state in the second, were drawn from various institutions of higher learning across the country. Asides the tuition fees, the scholars are placed on a stipend of twenty thousand naira (N20,000) as upkeep yearly, to enable them sort out other exigencies.
For Pharm Duke, his testimony of the scheme was all thanksgiving and gratitude to the Proprietor of the scholarship board.
“I got the scholarship in my second Year in School. I mean it was tedious and cumbersome with the financial stress until the scholarship came and made all very easy for me to get along till I completed my program”.
“It was all on God. And He passed through the Distinguished Senator OBA to make it smooth”.
Speaking on his parent’s reaction to the scholarship grant, the Pharmacist expressed:
“It was like a dream come true. It was an answered prayer; I mean, they were very elated. Before now, the load was much on dad…The scholarship scheme is really a financial stress saver. I mean, it has a greater way of reducing heavy financial stress”, he expressed.
In his opinion, the scholar described the processes involved in getting the scholarship as stress-free, adding that it was devoid of favouritism and bias.
“The Distinguished Senator is absolutely a nice man who believes in equality and fair play. The examination was conducted without any bias and list brought out without any favouritism; the Scholarship Scheme Conducting Group has been a good one. They made everything very smooth. Even when the stipends sometimes came on a later date after the school fees have been paid, there wasn’t any bias or difficulty in accessing the scholarship facility for one’s entitlement”, he recalled.
Appraising the scholarship board and its Principal, Pharm Luke scored the scholarship scheme high, saying it could pass for one of the best in Africa. He however suggested that additional support be given to final year students of the board for their project work.
“The Scholarship Scheme has been founded on equality and fair play in the sense that all those whose names came out were absolutely on merit and then, to show you how good he is towards empowerment programs and academics, he still sponsors so many people who are not mentioned in the scholarship list. If all his beneficiaries should be mentioned, I think he’ll absolutely win the highest scholarship giver if not in the entire world, in Africa. Though the workload in terms of financial expenses is much on him, I’ll suggest a little stipend be given to the final year scholars to help them during their project work. For example, during my project, it was scary but then GOD intervened”.
Wishing Senator OBA “nothing but the very best in all his endeavors”, the Pharmacist assured the Principal of his support “in any … capacity”, while praying for God’s blessings on him and hoping for an opportunity to work with him some day.
“God Almighty who sees his heart will fight all his battles and take him really higher to the pinnacle of all his life pursuits. I pray God fights his battles and give him absolute victory for the many opportunities he is giving to people”, Luke concluded.
Like Luke’s, other stories abound from scholars who have passed through the Senator Bassey Albert’s scholarship scheme without duress or pressure and have stopped to appreciate their Principal as they embrace the labour market. This is indeed to prove that no duty is more urgent than giving thanks, and thanking especially, the charming gardener who made the soul of their career blossom.
With these unnumbered accolades still counting, it behooves on other public office holders at the federal, state and local government levels to key into this excellent opportunity to write their names on the sands of time as OBA is doing.
Gestures like the Senator OBA scholarship scheme is what Nigeria needs to mitigate the damaging effects of illiteracy and encourage formal education which will in turn enhance our global rating.