Nigerians on the Bilateral Educational Agreement (BEA) Scholarship have abandoned their studies for menial jobs due to the failure of the Federal Government to pay their living allowances since 2014.
An earlier report by SaharaReporters detailed the complaints of scholars under the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) about the nonpayment of their allowances.
One of the scholars who spoke with SaharaReporters, said irregular payment started in 2014 and got worse as the year progressed. As a result, the scholars have resorted to surviving on "shameful and annoying" menial jobs.
He said: “Actually this delay of payment first started in 2014, when we spent seven months without pay," he said.
"But we were later paid at the end of the year, and for some other countries, they received theirs early the following year. Ever since, it’s gotten worse, with the Federal Government paying us half of our stipend every time and promising to pay the rest 'very soon'.
“Our outstanding stipends from 2015 were paid to us early this year, but those for 2016 and 2017 are still. Also, we haven’t received a dime this entire year.”
He said the Federal Government initially explained that the national budget had not been signed, but it was later revealed that the funds for their scholarship had been diverted for other use.
Lamenting the condition of the scholars, the student said: “Honestly, the truth is that the students can’t even cope anymore; they've given up.
"It was manageable the first year or two, but now it’s completely unbearable. In fact, the sincerity of the matter is that the students are literally dying. Things are too hard now, and students aren't even going to school anymore.
“They've now left their books to go and hustle' for what to eat, and if we begin to talk about the things our people are doing just to survive, you'd be ashamed, annoyed or even cry. However, none of them can be blamed, because the news is everywhere: 'Nigerians have no food'; 'We are in Deep Debt'. We have even lost most of our friends in the process. Things are too hard.”
All attempts to reach Lateef Olagunju, the acting director of the Federal Scholarship Board, were unsuccessful. Calls and text messages sent to his phone went unanswered.