Chevening Scholarship: UK Govt’s Succour To Nigerian Students

​BUKOLA OGUNSINA writes that no other country has the number of applicants for the prestigious Chevening Scholarships as Nigeria. Based on merit, the fully-funded scholarship, annually given by the British government has lifted a good number of Nigerians. Recently, Paul Arkwright the British High Commissioner celebrated successful Nigerians who won the 2016/2017 Scholarship programme.

The night was young, the invitees filled

with a sense of achievement; of hopes

realised; of dream come true. It was at

the residence of the British High

Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency

Paul Arkwright. People who had made it to

become Chevening Scholars were being

ushered in, some with their guests, others

with their thoughts of what lay ahead.

The evening was not without jokes and

pleasantries too. “Is her name on the

list,?” the security enquired of a guest

who had come accompanied by a scholar,

“no, she is my guest,” the scholar said.

“Her name is not on the list, sorry she

can’t come in,” he responded sharply,

giving her a deadpan expression. And just

as the scholar stared confused, lost for

words, he broke into a huge grin to

declare, “Just joking!” and politely

ushered them in
People mingled, talking excitedly about

things they discovered they had in common,

same universities they were admitted too,

courses, lifestyles, and of course the

occasional hugs upon sighting an old

friend who had made it too.

Omoboyowa Roberts who is one of the

beneficiaries of the Chevening

Scholarship, 2016/2017 told LEADERSHIP

Sunday that, “this for me is a dream come

true, something I had always looked

forward to even from my university days.

I am going to be studying, Masters in

Peace and Development at Leeds Beckett


“I think it’s a global opportunity to meet

with other scholars and to be a part of the

alumni, and above all to be able to get the

investment where you can come back and

develop Nigeria as a whole, so, it’s been a

fantastic opportunity, and I am happy to

be privileged to be a part of the global

network,” she said excitedly.

The Chevening Scholarships are the UK

Government’s overseas scholarships,

awarded to individuals with demonstrable

leadership potential who also have good

academic backgrounds. The scholarship not

only offers financial support for people

studying for a master’s degree at any UK

university, it also allows beneficiaries

become part of an influential global

network of 46,000 alumni. In 2015, 45

Nigerian benefited from the fully funded


Arkwright, the British High Commissioner to

Nigeria, began the evening with a welcome

address and some advice to beneficiaries

at the reception.

“This is the second time I have had a

Chevening reception. Last year, we

welcomed the scholars back to Nigeria

after they had finished their one year in

the UK. I am very pleased to see a few of

those people who were here last year,

come back to wish good luck to all our new


“So, a very warm welcome to all, who have

won Chevening scholarships this year. To

wish you the best of luck, to think about

how you can contribute to Nigeria when

you come back. I think that is a very

important part of the Chevening philosophy

if you like. It is about you, going out to

the UK, benefitting from the best

education in the world. I can say that

because, I am a product of it. And most

important of all, in my view is how you use

that expertise, how you use your

networks, your new friends to benefit this

great country of Nigeria.
“Those of you who are part of the alumni

network are part of a huge network, what

we are trying to do is build up the

network in Nigeria. We have over 1000

Nigerians who have been through the

Chevening programme, but we only have

about 150 people on our database.

So one of the things I am going to ask

you guys to do, both the current alumni

and those who are going out there in the

next few weeks is to reach out to some of

your friends, find out who’s got Chevening

scholarships and let others know, so that

we can increase that database, we can

help you with your own networks as well

as have a better sense of who it is who

are particularly good friends of the UK

because they have been to British

universities and benefitted from a British


This year, Nigeria had the most

applications for Chevening scholarship

which was about 4000. The High

Commissioner also stressed on the

importance of funding the programme so

that more Nigerians could be beneficiaries

as he called on the Nigerian Ministry of

Foreign Affairs to encourage their best to

apply for a Chevening scholarship, as the

scholarship needs more people in the civil

service and government sectors.

Big names such as Channels television’s

John Momoh, Nigeria’s Comptroller general

of Immigration and many more have

benefitted from the awards, including the

Ministry of Foreign affairs Permanent

Secretary, Audu-Rafiu Olusola

Enikanolaiye. Supporting the network

would in turn not just aid social

networking, but provide opportunities for

future generations of Nigerians.

“One of the things that I am determined to

do is to encourage people who have

benefitted from the Chevening scholarship

to give back to the Chevening scholarship

by helping to provide finance for

scholarships. And again we are looking for

partnerships, and you can help with that,

you can help with even giving some

guidance to the kind of study that you

would think will be beneficial to your

company, your institution, “Arkwright said.

He commended Laddoll Logistics who

provided funding for the Chevening

scholarships awardees. “We want to see a

lot more companies partnering with us in

helping Nigerians do this in the future,” he


The president of the Chevening Alumni

Association in Nigeria, Mr Tom Odemwingie

said, “I won this scholarship many years

ago. I did my programme in 1990/1991.

When I was about to leave the UK, one of

my friends said to me, why are you going

back to Nigeria, I can arrange for you to

stay behind if you want? The whole idea of

me accepting this scholarship was for me

to do a programme here, go back home and

help our people, that’s the kind of

challenge you are going to face. Someone

is going to tell you, why do you want to

go back?
“But the reason you should go back is to

go and solve a problem. There’s the other

issue of when you come back, what do you

do? I became the president of the alumni

association in 2011. We got the Corporate

Commission to register the association, as

Chevening Alumni Association. Since that

time it has been very frustrating to get

people to participate in the activities of

the association. But I like to report that

very recently we had a number of very

enthusiastic alumni who are saying we

must do something. We want to be able to

inspire activities around Nigeria. He

commended the High Commissioner for his

commitment to the alumni.

A Chevening Scholar, with an offer at

London School of Hygiene and Tropical

medicine to study Health Policy Planning

and Financing, Chinwe Chikwendu, said

“Perhaps why I am actually most excited is

because it’s not just me, from my family

here tonight, my younger brother happens

to also be a beneficiary. We are going to

the same university; we are going to do

the same course, so I bet you this goes to

show the level of transparency that is

actually applied in the Chevening

scholarship selection, because if there was

any other thing that is considered then

both of us would not be here tonight. I

want to say, a big thank you to UK

government first of all for the Chevening

scholarship scheme, because this is just

something very wonderful that has really

helped so many people achieve their

dreams, it is also something that has given

many people the opportunity they had

never really imagined they would get. So

it’s something really wonderful, and I

think the best way to reward the British

government and Chevening, is for us to go

out there to the UK and make the most of

the opportunity.

“Imbibe the knowledge, to interact, to

network and to improve ourselves and add

more value to ourselves, so when we come

back to Nigeria we will definitely add more

to the human capital that is available for

the growth and development of Nigeria,”

he said.