President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday inaugurated a special post-graduate scholarship scheme for all university graduates with a first class degree.
Inaugurating a 10-man steering committee for the take off of the scheme, at the State House, Abuja, Jonathan decried the dearth of qualified academic staff in the tertiary institutions.
He said that 60 percent of lecturers in the 124 universities across the country had no Doctorate Degree, noting that the situation "is embarrassing and un-acceptable".
"The information I got from the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) is that about 60 per cent of our academic staff in our universities don’t have PhD. that is quite embarrassing, I believe the Professors here will also feel bad. We have 124 universities, Federal, States and private and that is not good enough."
"I will set up an inter-ministerial department to work with some of you in the academics to come up with policies for robust training so that young men and women who are interested in academics could go anywhere in the world, that over the years we must bridge that gap.’"
The President said the initiative, which he conceived while as Governor, was aimed at building human resources for sustainable development and national transformation.
He said the committee would commence the programme by selecting 100 beneficiaries on merit for post graduate scholarship in science and engineering courses in the best institutions in the world.
"Every year, we should tap from among our best brains, selecting our best brains, we are starting with 100 because we have not made adequate arrangement for funding but the number will increase when we make budgetary allocation for it in 2013."
"We select our best brain in the area of science, engineering and some areas of economics and expose them to the best facilities available in the world."
“The ministry of education and this committee will have to travel to these universities to negotiate for positions in the top 25 universities in the world.
“The idea is for you to benefit you must have a first class. It is based purely on merit, no quota. We are giving opportunity for best brains.’’
President said the beneficiaries of the scheme would, on completion of their studies, be mandated to work for the country for a period of five years as lecturers or researchers before they could be allowed to go in to their chosen careers.
Jonathan tasked members of the committee to ensure transparency and merit in the choice of the prospective candidates.
Responding, the committee’s Chairman, Prof Julius Okojie, thanked the President for the appointment and assured him that they would deliver on their mandate.
Other members of the committee include the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, Dr Jamaila Shuara and Mrs Iddatu Abdullahi of the Federal Schorlarship Board.
The rest are Professors Musa Alabe, Mohammed Sule , Mohammed Onogu, Olurotimi Tayo, William Okowa and Ikenna Onyibe.
The Deputy Director, Tertiary Education in the Federal Ministry of Education, will serve as Secretary.