Some days ago, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) claimed it had paid over N2bn to settle outstanding fees of students undergoing its Foreign Post-Graduate Scholarship Programme.
Some of the beneficiaries of the scholarship have, however, alleged that the NDDC deliberately left out most of them and refused to pay their fees to their institutions of study.
They claimed that the commission was trying to victimise those who called out the commission on social media by excluding them from the payment.
“The NDDC said they are annoyed with us and did not pay our tuition because we called out the agency and we have given the agency a bad name.
“We've sent emails and up till now, no response. This is a deliberate act to remove our names from the list,” one of the affected beneficiaries told SaharaReporters.
Another beneficiary, whose tuition was not paid, alleged that the commission was making moves to revoke the scholarship of those who spoke ill of the commission on social media.
“Most of us who championed the cause of the campaign have not been paid at all.
“We have also been told that the NDDC wants to ‘discipline’ and revoke our scholarships and give it to other people. No penny has been given to us.
“They singled out people and they are making an attempt to victimize and revoke our scholarship.”
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how the non-payment of the tuition of beneficiaries led to the withdrawal of admission and deportation of the students.
Many of the beneficiaries are studying at Coventry University. Others are at the University of Leeds, University of Greenwich, University of Birmingham, and the University of Sheffield.
One of the beneficiaries studying at Coventry University has had his programme terminated. Another student, identified as Kevin, was studying at the University of Leeds but had his studentship revoked and was deported.
According to the commission, each beneficiary going for the doctorate programme abroad would receive N28,050,000 while those going for a master's degree would receive N9,180,000.
A breakdown of the payment shows that each beneficiary would get N10,000 for transportation, N500,000 as take-off grant and $30,000 for MSc while PhD candidates would be given $30,000 for three years.
Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, NDDC’s Acting Managing Director, in a statement by the commission’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, said: “NDDC has made payment (N2 billion) for NDDC scholars following the resolution of issues with the Central Bank of Nigeria which delayed remittance of the funds to the universities.”
The commission has begun the process to enrol students for the 2019 scholarship despite the non-payment of the 2018 beneficiaries.
Bambriafa said, “Of the 5,000 candidates that applied for the programme that 3,112 candidates had been selected to take part in the 2019 exercise.”
However, findings by SaharaReporters revealed that the claim by the commission is false and could only be regarded as a half-truth.
Attempts to reach the commission were unsuccessful as the top officials of the commission failed to answer calls and messages sent to them.
Calls to the Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa and Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the NDDC, Chris Oyirindah only rang out while Mr Okejoto Gochua directed our correspondent to the Corporate Affairs Department, who could not be reachable as of the time of filing this report.