No fewer than 17 children of policemen who sacrificed their lives while on active duty have departed Nigeria to the Republic of Benin to acquire their first degrees.
The students were sponsored by Omega Power Ministries under its Foreign Undergraduate Scholarship programme.
They would be furthering their education at ESM University in Cotonou, Benin.
The General Overseer of OPM, Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere, who addressed the students before their departure from Port Harcourt to Benin on Thursday, said the beneficiaries are both Christians and Muslims.
“The 17 beneficiaries are children of policemen who sacrificed their lives while on duty serving this great country, Nigeria.
“We felt that children of our fallen heroes deserved to be catered for and included in our foreign scholarship programme which over 4,000 Nigerians have so far benefitted.
“The foreign scholarship will take care of the tuition and accommodation of the students from their first year to their graduation,” he said.
Chinyere said aside the tuition and accommodation that the students would be fed one meal per day from the OPM-run free restaurant inside the university campus.
“The free restaurant which is for only students on OPM scholarships will feed the students one meal daily.
“Parents and guardians of the students are expected to cater for their other meals as well as cater for their clothing, pocket money and other needs.
“We are the first in the world to establish a free restaurant for students on campus. The free restaurant is added to the scholarship but not part of the scholarship,” he added.
The general overseer said the 17 beneficiaries were selected from the 17 zones of the police commands across the country.
Chinyere announced plans by the church to extend the scholarship to children of deceased service personnel in the Nigeria Army, Navy, Air Force among others.
He clarified that OPM had shut down the foreign scholarship programme months ago due to the depreciating value of the naira against some foreign currencies.
“But we decided to restart the programme because we went into partnership with an individual, who is not a member of OPM, but who is happy with what we are doing.
“So, OPM is paying half of the tuition while this good-spirited individual covers the remaining half – which is the reason we restarted the scholarship programme.
“We went into partnership because at the time we began this scholarship, the naira exchange was not so bad, but now, naira exchanges for about N1,200 to one USD,” he said.
Chinyere said the value of the naira has also not fared better against CFA franc (used in Benin) which now exchanges above N1,000 at black market rate.
He called for more partnerships with individuals and companies to enable the church to award scholarships to more underprivileged Nigerians.
The preacher advised the students to make judicious use of the opportunities granted them by shunning activities like partying, smoking, and drinking that could impact negatively on their studies.
One of the beneficiaries, Jubet Nhandowa, 23, a Plateau indigene, who would be studying Computer Science at ESM University, described the scholarship as miraculous.
He said that after he graduated from secondary school in 2018, he moved to the village to assist his grandmother on her farm.