The Niger Delta Development Commission has made a fresh promise to pay allowances and tuition of 94 persons under its scholarship program.
The NDDC had failed to pay students, who benefited from its scholarship scheme since 2018.
The commission had in September sent a delegate to the United Kingdom to verify the academic status of scholars, who benefitted from its scholarship programme.
The visit was also to ascertain the number of beneficiaries of its scholarship scheme studying in the country.
Following the verification, the NDDC had yet to commence the payment of the scholars.
To compel the commission to pay the tuition and allowances from 2018, the scholars are planning to embark on a week-long protest at the Nigeria High Commission, London.
“With regards to the recent claimed verification exercise by our sponsors (NDDC), to the remaining 94 unpaid 2018 scholars, the commission’s failure to pay our fees and upkeep for two years has led to another massive protest to shut down activities at the Nigeria High Commission, London, starting from Monday 2nd November.
“We have collectively decided to shut down activities at the Nigeria High Commission in London for a week due to the failed promises from our sponsors the NDDC after a claimed verification exercise,” the protest notice reads.
Following the announcement of the planned protest, the NDDC has said it will commence the payment of the 94 scholars.
Explaining the reason for the delay, Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, cited “unforeseen circumstances” and “upheavals that followed the EndSARS protests” as reasons for the delay in the commencement of the payment.
Odili said, “Having concluded the verification exercise, which involved the registration of all scholars and the confirmation of their claims with the various universities, payment of the outstanding fees were to commence immediately.
“Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances, including the upheavals that followed the EndSARS protests by youths, constituted stumbling blocks for the speedy implementation of the payment plan.
“Before the protests, which slowed down activities, the NDDC Interim Management Committee, IMC, had released $5,910,000 million through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to offset all the verified outstanding foreign scholarship obligations, despite the non-passage of NDDC 2020 budget by the National Assembly.
“Obviously, the CBN was not immune to the sad realities bedevilling the nation in the past few weeks. However, the bank has promised to treat the case of the scholarship beneficiaries with utmost dispatch.”
The NDDC urged the students to exercise patience, promising to ensure the payment of the entire allowances.
“We appeal for understanding and patience from the students. We urge them not to allow themselves to be used as tools by those sponsoring devious campaigns to discredit the IMC through protests at the Nigerian Embassy in London.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the postgraduate scholarship Scheme, which is part of our efforts to develop professional manpower to help in the transformation of the Niger Delta region,” the NDDC added.