By Felix Khanoba
No fewer than 49 students of University of Abuja (UniAbuja) on Tuesday received monetary awards to the tune of N4.9 million from the Chinese government.
The 49 students, comprising seven postgraduate students and 42 undergraduates, received N100,000 each.
The cash award, aimed at supporting the students’ academic pursuit, was presented to the beneficiaries by Charge D’ Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Abuja, Mr Zhao Yong, during a brief ceremony at the main campus of the University.
Speaking at the event, Yong said the award ceremony was to commemorate Nigeria’s and Chinese independence anniversary on October 1 as well as 49 years of friendship and bilateral relations between the two countries.
He said: “As October 1st is fast approaching, our joy is shared and happiness doubled, be it in Nigeria or in China. For October 1 is our joint holiday, and the coming October 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the Independence of Nigeria, as well as the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“Celebrating October 1st together constitutes a unique bond between China and Nigeria. I wish to express my warmest congratulations to the 49 winners who will be rewarded with the October 1 awards and I hope you together with your peers will carry on the China-Nigeria friendship and become goodwill ambassadors of our two people.”
The Chinese diplomat expressed his commitment to always ensure the safety and well-being of foreign nationals, including students.
On his part, UniAbuja’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdulrasheed Na’allah, lavished praise on China for its continuous support to Nigeria.
He called on the beneficiary students to leverage on the financial support to improve on their education to ensure a better and brighter future.
His words: “The best way you ensure the future for the people is education, the best way you ensure the eradication of poverty is education, the best way you make sure that communities move forward is education, the best way you initiate grassroot development that is durable is education.
“For the People of China to have supported young people in this university like this, they are saying yes, they understand and are sincere in the way that they wanted the future of our young people to be.”
The VC said the University has continued to enjoy massive support from China, saying the institution’s new academic programme on Railway Engineering testified to such support.
Also speaking, the Dean of Students Affairs of the University, Abubakar Kari, said beneficiaries were selected from across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to reflect the national spread of the institution.
He listed other criteria used in selecting the beneficiaries to include academic performance, indigent background and gender, saying 26 out of the 49 beneficiaries are females.