By Anngu Orngu,
The Benue State Scholarship Board (BSSB) was established in 1976 under the then Military Administrator of Benue State Lt. Col. Abulahi Shelleng and raised to its Present Status by Group Captain Joshua O. Obademi led government through an edict in 1994.
The BSSB awards Scholarships to candidates of Benue State studying or intending to study in institutions of higher education both within and outside Nigeria.
The Board formulates, reviews and initiates policies and programmes on the award of scholarships and also determines the financial programme of the Board;
The Board selects and submits to the Commissioner for Education names of persons from the state who satisfy the conditions for the award of scholarships.
The Benue State Scholarships Board operates an automatic scholarships scheme which covers Nigerian Law Schools, Post graduate, Undergraduate, Higher National Diploma and handicapped Students at all levels of Education. The scheme also includes undergraduate and NCE French Immersion Programme.
The Benue State Scholarships Board consists of Chairman and Members who are responsible for formulating, reviewing, initiating policies and programmes.
The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Governor for a renewable tenure of four years is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Board.
The Board is saddled with the responsibility of: Awarding of Scholarships to candidates of the state home and in the diaspora.
In 2015 when His Excellency Chief Dr. Samuel Ortom took over Benue State as the Governor, the BSSB had suffered misappropriation of funds meant for students’ scholarship and ingenuity of the true and legitimate number of eligible students, it was discovered that there were ghost students on the payrolls, the discovery necessitated the change in the leadership of the Board where Dr. Isaac Igbe was appointed the new Executive Secretary.
In compliance to the vision and directive of the Governor, a thorough investigation was carried out to ascertain the true number of eligible students, prior to this sanitary action, the Governor having positive disposition to the plights of Benue students immediately released the sum of Twenty Million Naira (20,000,000) to be paid to students which was successfully done. The process ran through when Comr. Vincent Iorshe and Comr. Akase Vera were NUBESS Presidents in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
In 2018 when Comr. Pillah Romans was the NUBESS National President, the Governor again released the sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million (150,000,000) naira for another Payment. This payment was marked with uniqueness because there was 100% increment in the usual amount paid earlier. Another commendable gesture here was the accommodation of students into the scheme across all levels unlike before where only graduating classes were prioritized. In addition to the above positive development, no student who had registered was left unpaid and there was no collection for ID cards, passport and Payment record cards as was the usual routine. It was during this time that all the law students were paid Two Hundred Thousand (200,000) naira each under the strict supervision of their president Barr. Atsaga Michael.
In 2019, the payment of students who were not captured in 2018 due to their nonregistration and Christmas/New year interruption continued with the available funds left from 2018 DISBURSEMENT under m Comr. Smith Tyonor’s led leadership. Another class of law students was also paid this year and their president Barr. Nyaku Benjamin supervised.
In this year 2020, Fifty Million (50,000,000) has already been directed to be released to students under Tiv Joshua, the delay in the processing and Payment is associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and government is putting in place modalities for immediate disbursement that will not negate protocols of COVID-19
In summary the scholarship payment under Gov. Samuel Ortom is as shown below:
2016/2017 – Release of 20 million backlog scholarship funds.
2018- Release of 50 million scholarship for law students at Law School where each person was paid 200,000
2018- Release 100 million for regular Students with 100% increment.
2019 – Release of 40 Million for Batch A law students.
2020 – Release of 50 Million for regular students scholarship.
Chief Dr. Samuel Ortom, deserves commendation for the constant release of funds for bursary allowance for Benue State Students.
Governor Ortom since assumption of office resumed the payment of scholarship which was abandoned for many years.
In recognition of the Governor’s positive disposition to the total welfare of his people, I make bold to say that my principal has made education as one of the priorities of his administration, this is evident in the full accreditation of the College of Health Sciences Benue State University, Makurdi which had given a breakthrough that led to the graduation and induction of the pioneer Medical Doctors of the College in 2015. In addition, Eight other sets of Medical Doctors have already been graduated and inducted into the Medical Profession. The renovation, reaccreditation and upgrading of of the School of Nursing and Midwifery Makurdi to degree awarding institution, construction of primary and post primary schools across the State, placement of Benue State University Makurdi on first line charge which has ensured the prompt payment of their salaries to ensure that academic activities at the University are not disrupted among others.
It could be recalled that, all the tertiary institutions in the State were on strike until Dr. Ortom in 2015 upon assumption of office put and end to the ugly ills that led to the action.
The Governor has proven beyond reasonable doubts, his concern for the sustenance of qualitative educational system in Benue State and steadfast stance on yes to life despising threats to his life.
Students have benefited immensely from the administration especially in the area of the ‘STEM’ initiative, an Educational value added scheme for primary, post primary and tertiary institutions in Benue State.
We now have two additional Polytechnics in the State still under Gov. Samuel Ortom’s administration just to mention but a few amongst many. Not also forgeting the recent approval given to include e-learning in our teaching methods in line with global best practices.
I appreciate the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology Professor Dennis A. Ityavyar for always taking the welfare of Benue Students as top priority and ensuring that their positive aspirations are met. I also thank the Executive Secretary of Benue State Scholarship Board Dr. Isaac Igbe and his staff for always being transparent in the handling and disbursement processes.
To our ever-caring mother, HE. Eunice Ortom Ph.D, you are the best gift we have ever had, your timely intervention in matters of students’ welfare has always legendary.
Gov. Ortom’s administration will not be distracted by anyone that seeks to gain attention and cheap popularity. The government is focused on delivering democratic dividends to the good people of Benue State and cannot be distracted by every street urchin.
God Bless Benue State!!!