The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced the award of a full postgraduate scholarship, up to doctorate level, to the 2016/17 best graduating student of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, who made the announcement while speaking at the University’s 40th convocation ceremony held in Zaria on Saturday, said Al-Amin Bashir Bugaje, would be sponsored by the NNPC to further his education up to Ph.D level in any institution in the world.
At this year’s convocation ceremony, twenty three year old Bugaje bagged a First Class degree in Electrical Engineering with the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.93 to emerge the University’s overall best graduating student,
“This gesture was in line with NNPC’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of championing educational excellence nationwide. We equally want to encourage other students who are still in school to also aspire towards achieving excellence in their academic pursuits,” Dr. Baru, himself a First-Class degree holder in Mechanical Engineering from the ABU, stated.
He noted that this was not the first time NNPC was lending a hand to educational development in the country as a few weeks ago, the Corporation had the grand finale of its Annual National Quiz Competition where the best secondary schools from the 774 Local Government Arears, the states and the zones in the country competed for honours.
“At the end of that quiz, we rewarded the state winners with a one-off educational grant of N100,000 each, the National Finals winners: first place (Delta), second (Abia) and third place (Ondo) won N300,000, N250,000 and N200,000 respectively as annual bursary support for the entire course of their tertiary education,” he added.
Responding, an elated Bugaje expressed his gratitude to the NNPC for giving him the opportunity to further his education, stressing that he was “shocked” to hear the GMD announce the scholarship gesture to him.
“I thank the NNPC for this wonderful opportunity to go and compete with the best of the best in the world. Hopefully, I will utilize this opportunity to go and groom myself the more and see how we can come back to contribute our quota to nation-building,” Bugaje, who observed that right from day one, he had always strived for excellence in all his academic pursuits, added.
He also thanked his family members, friends and above all the Almighty for helping him achieve this feat, adding that their support throughout his years of study in ABU has indeed catapulted him to keep going and to becoming the best among his peers.
Earlier in his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, who appreciated NNPC’ s support to their best graduating student, said he was not surprised with the gesture on the part of the NNPC, the Corporation being a centre of excellence itself.
“This is very encouraging on the part of NNPC as it would show the way to other corporate bodies to follow suit and invest in education. It also shows NNPC as not only a critical supporter of the nation’s economy, but also a pillar in the nation’s educational development,” Prof. Garba said.
The VC also thanked the GMD for his gesture in supporting the University’s mini-petroleum refinery project, saying that most of the milestone achieved in the refinery initiative came from the NNPC.
Prof. Garba assured that the ABU would take the refinery project to the highest level.
Also speaking, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Mohammed Dauda, said young Bugaje has made the entire faculty proud by his remarkable achievement, assuring that “I have no doubt in my mind that the young man, who has tremendous opportunities lying ahead of him, will not disappoint NNPC and the entire country.”
It would be recalled that Dr. Baru delivered the Pre-Convocation Lecture where he harped on the need for Nigeria to diversify its economic base away from the vulnerability and fragility of oil and gas revenue.
Shortly before the lecture, Baru had toured the ABU one-barrel per day capacity mini-refinery plant where he expressed NNPC’s commitment to collaborate with the University in terms of materials and human capacity development to ensure the success of the project.
Baru, who charged the University to leverage on the existing NNPC refineries to expose their staff and students to refining operations added: “We are going to take some equity in this project, to make sure that things are properly done in such a manner that will provide training opportunities for all Nigerians.”
This year’s ABU convocation ceremony witnessed 8,260 undergraduates who graduated with first degrees, of which 50 earned first class degree honours. In addition, 3,600 were awarded postgraduate degrees, 256 graduated with Ph.D degrees and 2,300 obtained masters degrees across the university’s 13 faculties.