As the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic made its entry into Nigeria the familiar pattern of disruptions already reported by global news media in countries that had recorded cases began to play out in Nigeria. From school closures and suspension of all local and international flights, various policies limiting large gathering of people were made and enforced by government.  When the Federal government announced the gradual easing of lockdown in the affected states and partial resumption of government workers, the Presidential Task force on COVID-19 gave general guidelines to MDA’s and directed them to determine other risk reduction measures based on the peculiarities of their organization and sectors of operations. Accordingly, the Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr. Bello Aliyu Gusau empanelled a committee to look at the impact of the pandemic on the operations of the Fund, and come up with a response plan.

The Committee Chair, Manager Education & Training Department, Haj. Rabiah Waziri-Adamu acknowledged the apprehension being faced by applicants whose interview for the 2020/2021 OSS scholarship were suspended as a result of the pandemic. It will be recalled that the interviews for the MSc. held in all the 6 geo-political zones while that for PhD held in only 2 centres. The PhD interviews in 4 centres were put on hold because of the pandemic. She said PTDF is studying the global response in terms of education before taking a decision on whether to go ahead to conclude the 2020/2021 interview. “If we decide to go ahead, we have to consider online interviews because the new normal is less physical interactions and use of ICT. We would have to look at the panel of interviewers and the high number of interviews to be conducted. All of this will determine how the interviews will be done, but right now we have put the interviews on hold and have not taken a decision while we watch the response from our partners. Some have said they will commence their sessions in September while others have not given a direction on the way forward, but we are awaiting further guidance in order to make a decision.”

The Fund has been in active engagement with its scholars studying abroad in this period of COVID-19 Pandemic. “For our engagement with scholars, we set up many virtual meetings with them. We have been engaging them since the COVID 19 breakout to know how they are faring and most of them told us that they have carried on with their studies online where the schools are offering online classes. It is only the PhD scholars who needed to be physically present at the labs that had to stop at some point because they could not carry on. The others were not really at risk because classes were holding online, and the schools put measures in place to ensure students could order food and have it delivered to them. For the local scholarship programme, all schools were shut down by the Federal government and the students are at home.”

The dynamic response plan by the Fund is aimed at transforming PTDF into a flexible, resilient organisation capable of adapting to gradual and sudden changes to its internal and external environments.

Press and External Relations Unit