Following Gen Sani Abacha military junta’s 1993 killing, to the anger of the international community, of the famous Ogoni Nine who opposed Royal Dutch Shell’s operational conducts in their domain in Rivers State, family’s members of victims and other concerned stakeholders in a 2009 US lawsuit, Wiwa vs Shell, received $15.5million USD in an out of court settlement.
One of the plaintiff’s first philanthropic actions following that landmark lawsuit outcome was to commit $5million out of the $15.5million USD, into the creation of the Kiisi (meaning progress in Ogoni) Trust Fund to support education, health, agriculture, women empowerment, skills and enterprise development, among other benefits for Ogoni people and their communities.
In 2018, the Ogoni Scholarship Fund initiated by the Kiisi Trust awarded 18 scholarships of N150,000 per scholar, to final-year Ogoni undergraduates in tertiary institutions across Nigeria to support their dissertation projects.
This year, the number of beneficiaries increased to 346 after a thorough screening process.
Uchechukwu Onyeagucha, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Kiisi Trust, listed the awardees to include 124 second-year students, 23 third-year students and 199 final-year students.
At the presentation of certificates in Port Harcourt to the awardees, who have already received their first payments, Onyeagucha said, “The commitment to this scholarship is informed by the role education plays as a vital investment for human and economic development.
“This scheme aims to become a beacon for Ogoni scholars with the thirst for education and willingness to improve their lives and society at large. We must not lose sight of the desire of the initiators of the trust fund to “stand as a legacy of the labours of our heroes past. Scholars must therefore be committed to their studies and come out to forge good careers and competences that would make them role models to Ogoni generations yet unborn.”
Former Vice-Chancellor, Rivers State University and Kiisi Trust board member, Prof Barineme Fakae said, “The transparent process for selection sets a CGPA of 2.5 for universities or its equivalent in other approved tertiary institutions as minimum grade students must maintain through the duration of studies.
Anyone who falls short of that loses the benefit for the next year’s payment of scholarship.”
A 2020 Ogoni Scholarship Fund scholar, Leson Bare, Laboratory Science student of the Rivers State University who attested to the transparent selection process said: “This is a call to redouble efforts in my studies.
I will take full advantage in the aim, not only to come out impressive on graduation but to make proud our heroes past who paid the huge price to give us this opportunity by becoming successful and a true role model to Ogonis yet unborn.”
Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria