Buhari keeps mum on ministers hijacking railway scholarship while meeting students in China

The scholarship, which involved sponsorship of over 40 Nigerian undergraduate students in Chinese universities to study railway engineering is part of the CCECC’s corporate social responsibility, having benefitted from a major railway and other construction projects across Nigeria.

Rather than make the scholarship available for all eligible Nigerian youth, the scholarship slots were simply shared among wards of select government ministers and other top public officials.

The top officials, who benefitted were identified in a document used by the construction firm, CCECC, to permit selected candidates to participate in the scholarship interview.

On June 20, at the ministry of transport which coordinated the application process, scores of young Nigerians, who travelled long distances from all over the country, besieged the ministry complex to submit applications for the scholarships.

To their amazement, authorities at the transport ministry rejected their applications, saying no such opportunities exist. The youth then protested, and at a point blocked the ministry’s entrance.

To douse escalating tension by the restless youth, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Sabiu Zakari, issued a press statement dismissing claims that the Chinese firm was offering “railway engineering scholarships”.

What Mr Zakari did not state in his press release was that his office had shared the available scholarship slots among top government officials.

Regardless of the claim that the scholarship was false, the youth stormed the CCECC headquarters the following day, which was the scheduled date for the commencement of the interviews.

The Chinese firm was conducting interviews for about 42 shortlisted applicants in the scholarship scheme that would see successful candidates train as railway engineers in China.

On getting there, the applicants found out that, without a signed letter by a minister or permanent secretary, they were not be allowed to participate in the interview.

Only candidates who had been nominated by top officials were allowed for the interview.

One of such was the award of scholarships to 30 students from the Ahmadu Bello University.