About 94 Nigerians students studying in the foreign countries under the Niger Delta Development Commission scholarship scheme have accused the agency of deliberately refusing to pay them.
Recall that after agitation and protests from the students in the United Kingdom, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered that the NDDC pay all the students.
The commission paid arrears of 2016 and 2019 sets with the 2018 scholarship beneficiaries -- 40 PHD and 54 MSC – left out.
The commission’s head of Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, said the NDCC was verifying the status of the students and will pay them.
Odili on Friday described the students as “hirelings, most of whom are masquerading as the commission’s scholars”, adding that they were part of a campaign orchestrated by powerful individuals against the agency.
Reacting, the students condemned the statement by Odili, saying the NDDC could verify their scholarship status on their portal, which is accessible by the management.
They accused the commission of handpicking those to pay while leaving them out from the President’s directive to pay all scholars.
“In other words, the NDDC selectively handpicked those it paid without any defined criteria and is refusing to pay fees, grants, and upkeep of 2018 scholars for no justifiable reason whatsoever. By this, we perceived some level of nepotism and sentimental undertone displaced by the NDDC.
“This came a rude shock to us because historical, the NDDC before now had always paid the fees and upkeep of scholars in the order in which they were incurred, that is, from the earliest to the latest.
“While it is unclear why an entire cohort of scholars have been excluded from recent payments and with the rumour mill running about the said scholars being selectively victimized for protesting against the delay in their due payment remittances, media houses and NDDC began to front the information to the well-meaning public that the NDDC has made all outstanding payments to foreign postgraduate scholars.
“It is NOT true that NDDC has paid all its scholars because as of date, the NDDC has not made payments to any of the outstanding scholars from the 2018 scholarship cohort (amongst which are masters and PhD Scholars),” they said.
The scholars urged the Presidency and National Assembly to mandate the NDDC to ensure payment of 2018 set as they were at risk of forfeiting their certificates.
They added, “With these, we wish to draw the attention of the Presidency and the National Assembly to the fact that the NDDC and its management are openly refusing to comply with the directive of President Buhari to pay all outstanding fees and upkeep stipends of all scholars without fail.
“We, therefore, implore the NDDC to live up to their responsibility and fully comply with the President's directive to pay all outstanding scholarship fees and upkeep allowance. We further implore the NDDC to do the needful and refrain from further bringing the name of the country into disrepute.”
The 2018 foreign scholars have been plagued by hardship caused by the refusal of the NDDC to make payments as at when due.
Two of the students had their studentship in the University of Coventry and University of Leeds revoked last year because the NDDC failed to pay their registration fees.
Many of them were logged out of their school portals.
They told SaharaReporters that they were unsure of where meals would come from.
They also said their academic transcripts have been seized due to the non-payment of their tuition.