PTDF’s jaundiced judgment

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

As a country, Nigeria does not exist in a vacuum. It is supported by institutions the way pillars support a building. However, as surely as pillars get badly shaken whenever a building totters, as Nigeria has run into bumps on its road to development, those institutions have themselves been so thoroughly shaken as a result.

The institutional corruption which continues to   chew responsible and accountable governance to a pulp in Nigeria, like termites chewing up wood, is deeply embedded in many Ministries, Directorates and Agencies of government where corrupt syndicates who not only corruptly enrich themselves with public funds but  carve out time and space to bleed those who patronize government services dry.

Because many of the MDAs are stuffed full with the cronies of those who should call them to account, many of those shadowy staff openly do only what they like. They are some of the main reasons government in Nigeria continues to be bogged down by a ponderous bureaucracy. They are the main reasons Nigeria remains the way it is where it is.

Recently, in a bid to wail more than the bereaved over Nigeria`s tenous security situation, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund outdid itself. The issue was the interviews for its Overseas Scholarship Scheme.

As part of efforts to boost the capacity of Nigerians to work in the oil and gas industry, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund(PTDF) recently shortlisted  8,800 candidates from over  26,000 applicants for the annual  Overseas Scholarship Scheme, OSS, which  is an annual programme that awards scholarships  to Nigerians  for MSc and PhD studies  in partner universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China and Malaysia.

In his bid to explain the process for this year`s selection, Mr. Bello Mustapha, the Manager of the Overseas Scholarship Scheme, said the process which started in December 2021 would see shortlisted candidates interviewed across centers in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kaduna and Bauchi.

According to Mr. Mustapha, “Over 26,000 people applied for the scholarship and over 8000 were selected to come and do the interviews. We conduct the interviews in the six geopolitical zones in the country but we are doing in five geopolitical zones of the country this year because of issues of insecurity in the Southeast. We sent them mails (candidates from the Southeast) to choose any center. In all the geopolitical zones we have, you can actually choose any center that you want.You may be in the Southeast and you decide to do it in Abuja, or you can even go to Bauchi.”

Mr. Mustapha failed to add Kaduna to his recommendations to candidates from the Southeast, but maybe he should have done so to complete the circus and circuitous reasoning. It beggars belief really.

Anyone who is uninitiated in Nigerias parlous security situation who reads Mr. Mustaphas explanation for the PTDF not choosing any city in the Southeast for its interviews may think the entire Southeast is  embroiled in some kind of bloody  war with thousands being killed  every hour  and buildings being reduced to rubble  every second.

Hearing him talk about the Southeast in contradistinction to other regions of Nigeria where the interviews would be held in designated cities, one may be tempted to think that all those  cities were calm and peaceful with the Southeast being the only host of restive cities.

While it is no news that the IPOB is running riot in Anambra State in the Southeast, it is also no news that Kaduna State where the interviews have been slated is in the running as perhaps the most unsafe state in the country at the moment. Insecurity has practically established a base in the state.  Even Abuja is hardly safe. So is Bauchi.

Yet, they were chosen probably because to ignore it would prove  far  too inconvenient for  the PTDF`s top brass,  family members and  cronies who may want to  have their own interviews in the cities.

Nigeria is unsafe at the moment. In these days when insecurity grips the Giant of Africa in its deadly claws, to ask applicants to travel from the Southeast any part of Nigeria for the OSS interviews is to put them in danger. It is to put them in the line of fire.

However, the PTDF was apparently in too much haste to tar the Southeast with the brush of insecurity to consider this fact. If there is barely any part of Nigeria that is safe at the moment, it is because the government under which the PTDF is an agency has refused to take full responsibility for the insecurity ripping Nigeria apart. It is not interviewees from the Southeast who should pay for this odious oversight.

Victimizing Nigerians from any region on the basis of insecurity in the absence of compelling and conclusive reasons by any government body,or subtly sending  the message  that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in a country whose diversity is swiftly proving a distraction is as diversionary as it is dangerous.

The PTDF and all other government agencies who have no qualms dancing to the drumbeats of discrimination should take note.

 

Kene Obiezu,

keneobiezu@gmail.com

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