August 21, 2014 – Chairman House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said she has received reports about 322 Nigerian students on federal scholarship in Russia begging their colleagues from fellow African countries to sustain themselves.
“The Committee on Diaspora Affairs continues to receive numerous cries for help for our students in Russia through several channels; both at home and abroad”, she said in a statement, adding that though many of the students (and their parents) rejoiced upon receipt of the scholarship, they presently wish they were never awarded the scholarship as it appears to have brought them more hardship than joy.
“For over eight months (and counting) our students are yet to receive their monthly stipends. This act of unpaid student stipends is highly reprehensible and is beyond human justification. The haphazard manner of payment of BEA scholarship awardees needs to be addressed immediately with a view to implementing a permanent and long term solution”, she said.
Dabiri noted that towards the end of 2013, the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs had to intervene to resolve a similar issue for this same set of 322 students in Russia.
“Barely nine (9) months later and we are back again making a case for the students to ensure they are given what is rightfully theirs; this present means of scholarship administration for our students overseas is certainly unsustainable and the Federal Ministry of Education urgently needs to implement a policy for student stipend payments which is sustainable, timely and efficient”, she added.
The lawmaker said lack of prompt payment and subsequent student cash strap, has led to some of the students into begging from their fellow African counterparts (on the same BEA scholarship from their countries) including those from Ghana, Namibia, Uganda and even Sierra Leone.
“This act certainly does not bode well for our students and only further dents our nation’s already ailing international image. We need to act fast to ensure we do not provoke our students to adopt immoral means of survival.
“I would thus like to appeal to the Minister of Education through the Federal Ministry of Education to look into the above matter and ensure that it is resolved with immediate effect whilst striving to implement a system which is sustainable and capable of operating with little or no human interference”, she noted.