120 Ebonyi, Rivers scholarship students stranded in UK cry for help

Not less than 120 scholarship students of Ebonyi and Rivers State are currently stranded in the United Kingdom.  The Authority learnt that Nigerian students drawn from the University of Suffolk embarked on a protest on the streets of Manchester to register their displeasure that the governments of both states have abandoned them after sending them out to study on scholarship.

They marched from University of Salford, where most of them are studying to Media City, and then to the British Broadcasting Corporation, all in Manchester. They held placards and chanted support songs for President Muhammadu Buhari. The placards read: "Ebonyi Students are Homeless Abroad,  Ebonyi State Government, Your Students Are Stranded in UK, We Support Nigerian Government Anti Corruption Crusade, Government Scholarship Letters Rejected, Sponsored Students are Humans, not Rags".

Addressing the media in the University of Salford, in England, President of Nigerian Students Society (NSS), Olalere Olaide said that the students said came out to support the anti-corruption crusade of the president, but decided to cry out on their predicament. He said the students are at the verge of being deleted from the school's list, as most of them have not been able to pay for tuition, and are therefore not allowed to participate in regular studies.

"Some of us here are Ph.D and Masters students. We are urging Mr President to come to our aid. The students are even homeless, with nowhere to stay. Even our welfare packages are not there". The students who appealed to the Federal government to prevail on their various states to take care of them, said theirs is a tale of woes and frustration. The letter, which the students said was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit last week to Lancaster House, London, was exclusively made available to The Authority. 

Under the umbrella of NSS, the umbrella organization that comprises of international students from Nigeria studying in United Kingdom, they said that most of the students are at the danger of being evicted from the country due to their inability to pay school fees. At the moment, most of them are denied usage of the libraries, classrooms, dormitories, and are getting frustrated in their studies.  The letter which was signed by the President of NSS, Olalere Olaide, and Chairman, Students' Scholarship Committee, Okoro Benedict Chinedum said that the schools in the UK are beginning to reject students with Nigerian government signed letters of scholarship. 'Nigerian government is unresponsive and unpredictable', was their reason for rejecting a particular student in April, 2016. The students therefore begged Mr President 'to intervene in this matter as it bothers more on our global image, than anything else'. 

They also said that 'We must cultivate the creed that investment in research and education is key to finding our path amongst the pantheon of nations'.

The letter read in parts "Your Excellency, we wish to draw the attention of your esteemed office to the non- compliance of Ebonyi and Rivers State governments to the scholarship agreement which they entered into with some Nigerian students. While the students have kept their part by making the States and Nigeria proud through sterling academic records - bagging distinction and merits - world class research output - by remaining single as contained in the scholarship agreement - the government on their part are yet to fulfill theirs".  It said further "Majority of these students are scholars in their second year doctoral studies.  They have made striking impact in their various research pursuits. To this end, there are great economic benefits, if these scholars are allowed to be able to complete their studies, and return home to assist in nation building, than making them drop out of school".

"Severally, they have been logged out from the University facilities, such as library, blackboard, sports center etc., with a caveat to evict them from the country within the coming days, through the Home Office. While the NSS have had to plead with the school authorities to allow them sometime to resolve this lingering issues, these trajectories impact negatively on the psyche of a committed scholar.

"Furthermore, our image at the international scene is at stake. In April, the school authority came up with a decision not to accept any scholarship letter from Nigeria. We were taken aback that a Nigerian student with scholarship letter from - Education Trust Fund - TETFUND - a Federal Government program was turned down on the grounds that, 'Nigerian government is unresponsive and unpredictable'. This description falls short of the relentless effort of your ExcellencyPresident Buhari to align Nigeria on the path of self- redemption. The precedence being set by Rivers and Ebonyi states mock our collective passion to lift Nigeria from the morass of unaccountability. What we find worrisome is the fact that most of this scholarship funds were captured in 2015 budget".

They also pleaded that the president should act fast, as time is really of essence, in order to earnestly resolve the issues and get the scholars back on their studies in order to garner confidence in the administration's penchant for putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians.  

OFFOR ONUKWUWE, ASABA

120 Ebonyi, Rivers scholarship students stranded in UK cry for help 120 Ebonyi, Rivers scholarship students stranded in UK cry for help Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 Rating: 5

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