Nigerians who benefitted from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) 2018 Scholarship programme are currently facing deportation due to non-payment of their academic fees.
The 200 Nigerians, who were selected out of over 4,000 applicants, were given scholarships to pursue postgraduate studies abroad, fully funded by NDDC.
The commission in an elaborate ceremony presented award letters to the beneficiaries from the Niger Delta region.
The students received the letters with joy not knowing they would get no payment from the commission regarding their tuitions.
As promised, each beneficiary going for the doctorate would receive N28,050,000 while those going for master's degree would receive N9,180,000.
A breakdown of the money shows that each beneficiary would get N10,000 for transportation, N500,000 as take-off grant and $30,000 for MSc while PhD will be given $30,000 for three years.
Beneficiaries of the scholarship began the process of enrolment in their choice universities using their personal funds after being assured of reimbursement by NDDC. However, six months into the programme, many have yet to receive any funds from the commission.
Many of the beneficiaries are studying at Coventry University. Others are at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom; University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom; University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; and the University of Sheffield.
One of the beneficiaries who spoke with SaharaReporters stated that the commission only gave few beneficiaries N500,000 while others have yet to receive any payments.
“When we were given the award letter, NDDC is supposed to give us N500,000 as take-off grant but they gave very few people the money and promised others that they will give us the take-off grant later. Till now, we are yet to receive any money from the commission.
“We keep calling the commission but since last year, they were telling us that they will send the money but till now we are yet to get any money,” the beneficiary said.
Another beneficiary of the 2018 foreign scholarship scheme of the NDDC said the foreign schools they enrolled in are beginning to write them and might have their admission revoked any moment from now.
He said: "Many of us including myself have been receiving letters from our institution. They have written to the NDDC and the Nigerian government, who are our sponsors but they failed to reply to the institutions. The fact is that 95 percent of NDDC Scholars do not know where the next meal will come from.
“All our efforts to get the money were not successful. When we contact them, they will say it is the Central Bank of Nigeria that is delaying, sometimes they just give different reasons for not giving us the money. We want them to do the needful as many of us have been reduced to common beggars.”
One of the beneficiaries studying at Coventry University has had his programme terminated.
Before his programme was terminated and his eventual deportation, the school wrote to NDDC but the commission failed to respond to the school neither did it respond to the message sent by the beneficiary.
Another student, identified as Kevin, was studying at the University of Leeds but had his studentship revoked and was deported.
An email to him by the Admissions Officer, Katherine Goodchild, said, “Dear Kevin, as you did not complete registration by the deadline, you have now been withdrawn from your studies at the University of Leeds. This will be reported to your Home Office and they will take steps to cancel your visa.”
Currently, many students who have not been deported have been logged out of their university portal and would not receive a certificate if they are able to complete their programme.
The beneficiaries are urging the NDDC to immediately begin the process to release funds to them and complete the registration process for their academic programme.
“We are pleading to them to pay the money so we can be able to complete these studies. We want all relevant government agencies to step in and President Muhammadu Buhari should look into it as well,” they said.
All efforts to contact the Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa and Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the NDDC, Chris Oyirindah were unsuccessful as they both failed to pick their calls and to respond to messages sent to them.